Charley Pride, Faron Young Reach “Top of the Heap”

Singers Honored by Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame welcomed Charley Pride into its family
of members and presented him with a bronze medallion commemorating his
recent induction during a private ceremony Tuesday night (March 13).

The celebration, featuring stories and music, was the first official Hall of Fame event in the museum’s new, $37 million facility in downtown Nashville. The museum opens to the public May 17.

Pride and late country star Faron Young were officially inducted into the Hall of Fame in October during The 34th Annual CMA Awards. Months later, Pride is still excited about receiving the highest honor in country music.

“I’ve put some thought into it,” he remarked before the ceremony, “and I’ve come to the conclusion that … this milestone is at the top of the heap. Of all the awards, success and achievements I have been fortunate to have, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is it.

“I try to stay low enough to not let it get to me — the extent of this thing — because if I talk and get too deep in thought about it, I start to tear up.”

On hand were Hall of Fame members E.W. “Bud” Wendell, Brenda Lee, Eddy Arnold, Little Jimmy Dickens, Frances Preston, Earl Scruggs and Jo Walker-Meador.

Ralph Emery and “Cowboy” Jack Clement, who produced 20 of Pride’s albums, recalled stories about Pride and saluted his induction. “Because of his music, his character and all the obstacles he had to overcome to get here,” Clement remarked, “I’m so very pleased and happy he now is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.”

Wendell did the honors of presenting Pride his medal. The Dallas-based country star, who turns 63 on Sunday (March 18), kept his acceptance speech brief. “I’m going to stop right now and do what got me here,” Pride said. “I’m going to do some songs.”

Wearing his new medallion, he and his band performed Marty Robbins’ “My Woman, My Woman, My Wife,” Jim Reeves’ “He’ll Have to Go,” Hank Williams’ “Kaw-Liga” and Young’s 1961 No. 1 hit, “Hello Walls,” written by Willie Nelson. He rounded out his set with two of his own hits, “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone” and “Kiss an Angel Good Morning.”

Lee presented Young’s medallion to the singer’s son, Robyn. “I’m pleased to know my father’s name is going to live forever in this beautiful building,” Robyn Young said.

Grand Ole Opry star Bill Anderson, legendary songwriter Merle Kilgore and Dwight Yoakam (via video) paid tribute to Young. The rowdy, hard-living country star was repeatedly characterized as a hell-raiser with a heart of gold. Pride praised Young for supporting him early in his career when Pride broke country music’s color barrier.

Newcomer Eric Heatherly performed Young’s signature song, “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young.”

Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist, Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, Hall of Fame Director Kyle Young and MCA Records Nashville Chairman Bruce Hinton, who serves as Chairman of the Hall of Fame’s Board of Officers and Trustees, congratulated Pride and Young’s family during the formal presentations. Also in attendance were members of the Hall of Fame staff, music industry and media.