Charley Pride was all smiles when he joined the Country Music Hall of Fame Wednesday night (Oct. 4) during the 34th Annual Country Music Association Awards. Merle Haggard, inducted in 1994, presented his longtime friend with the award. In his introduction, Haggard recalled first meeting Pride in the 1960s, when Haggard needed an opening act for a performance in Montana.
“I knew when I first heard him sing that he was not going to be an opening act very long,” Haggard said. “Tonight, that man is going into the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
Following a taped career retrospective, Pride almost danced to the stage to perform a medley of four of his greatest hits — “Kiss an Angel Good Morning,” “Crystal Chandeliers,” “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone” and Hank Williams Sr.’s “Kaw-liga.” The induction turned into a true celebration, the audience clapping along as Pride sang. The excitement level was so high that Haggard handed Pride his Hall of Fame plaque without a previously rehearsed formal introduction.
“Oh my goodness, this is wonderful,” Pride said. “Ladies and gentlemen, this doesn’t happen every day, so I’ll never forget this night.” He thanked a host of people who influenced his career including fellow artist Red Sovine, who originally encouraged him to come to Nashville; fellow Hall of Famer Chet Atkins, who helped sign him to RCA; and his wife of nearly 44 years, Rozene. Pride seemed reluctant to leave the stage. “I’ve been blessed,” Pride said later. Ernie Banks, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, accompanied Pride and his wife for the evening.
Travis Tritt inducted the late Faron Young, who died in1996 after establishing a country music legacy that included hits such as “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young,” “Wine Me Up” and “It’s Four in the Morning.” Tritt said he loved Young’s music and treasured his friendship.
“Tonight, it’s an honor for me to announce Faron Young’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame,” he said. A video presentation highlighted Young’s career, referring to his many hit records, his foray into movie acting and his recording of Hall of Fame member Willie Nelson’s “Hello Walls.”
“If Dad was here tonight, he would want to thank Webb Pierce,” said Young’s son, Robyn, in a taped greeting. “On behalf of myself, my family and all the Faron Young fans, I’d like to thank the CMA. It means the world to us, and I think it means a lot to him, too. I think he knows it.” Pierce helped Young in the early years of his career.
The inductions of Pride and Young into the Country Music Hall of Fame bring the total number of members to 74.