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I wanted to talk about the legendary Charley Pride and his Montana roots on Monday's show. I knew he was the first black entertainer honored in the Country Music Hall of Fame. I knew he had some great Montana connections. I knew "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin" is one of my favorite country songs. But I also knew that I couldn't do a proper tribute to Charley Pride and all the reasons why he was considered an honorary Montana.

So I waited till Tuesday, and we brought in somebody who knows country music, and whose family got to know Charley Pride very well. Mark Wilson (one of the Breakfast Flakes from Cat Country in Billings) came in on his vacation day and joined us on our statewide radio show, Montana Talks. Wilson has not only spent nearly 40 years in radio himself but his dad Dave Wilson goes way back in country music radio in Great Falls, Montana.

Wilson talked about Charley Pride's early days in Great Falls and Helena, working at the smelter, playing baseball, and playing shows wherever he could.

 

The Montana Television Network had a great profile on Charley Pride back in June when he was still quarantined due to COVID-19.

East Helena is also where he started singing. The Smelterites manager, Kes Rigler, would pay Pride $10 dollars to sing the national anthem before games. After games, he’d play with a quartet called the Night Hawks at local clubs and soon everyone in town took note of his voice.

 

Charley Pride died Saturday at the age of 86, according to the Associated Press.

Click below for the full audio with Mark Wilson on Montana Talks with Aaron Flint.

 

 

(Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)

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