My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Classic Rewind: Charley Pride – ‘The Streets Of Baltimore’

3 responses to “Classic Rewind: Charley Pride – ‘The Streets Of Baltimore’

  1. Ken June 2, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    Charley Pride became one of my favorite singers as soon as he came on the scene in the 1960’s. His deep resonant voice and great songs with solid country arrangements were perfect for that era. I first saw him in concert on a multi-act package show in 1969 and he completely stole the show. The crowd could not get enough.

    But in the early 70’s something happened to Charley. He apparently received “coaching” from a choreographer or some other “expert” because his onstage persona radically changed. He no longer played guitar and adopted odd mannerisms that did not look natural. He often tried to “act out” some of the lyrics to his songs while dancing to the music. He also kept waving to folks in the crowd and had that “limp wrist” posture you often see with pop singers. Those mannerisms looked especially odd whenever he performed sad, serious songs like The Streets Of Baltimore. He no longer seemed truly comfortable during his shows. To me he appeared to be trying too hard. This video clip is exhibit A.

    This clip is much better if you only listen to the audio.

  2. Luckyoldsun June 3, 2019 at 12:19 am

    Charley Pride was sometimes “accused” of not sounding at all black in the way he sang country music. Could be that the dancing and “acting out the lyrics” that he was doing was something of a “black thing.” I’ve never seen any other country artist of the era perform in that fashion.

    I actually find the early clips of the young, deferential “Thank-you,-Mr.-Welk” Charley Pride to be a lot more uncomfortable looking than this clip of a middle-aged Charley, who appears to be confident and fully in charge.
    The emoting and carrying on that he does are not appealing to me, but–like Frank–Charley seems to be doing it his way.

    • Ken June 3, 2019 at 9:38 am

      It was definitely not a “white vs black” issue. It was a Nashville vs Hollywood/Las Vegas approach. There were a few other male country acts of the 70’s era that adopted a similar onstage style including former rock & roller Billy Crash Craddock, Tommy Overstreet and T.G. Sheppard.

      Pride’s respect shown to “Mr. Welk” was not deferential or unusual. Welk’s regular cast members and his guest stars addressed him that way. Lynn Anderson was a regular member of Welk’s show for several years and she referred to him similarly on camera. Perhaps you do not realize that Welk was a highly respected star in his day and was regarded as such by his regular cast and guest stars. To be clear he also showed great respect to them. It may appear uncomfortable to you due to your lack of knowledge of the music, culture and performers of that era. You cannot judge behavior from 50+ years ago by today’s standards.

      Charley had a decade or so of onstage experience under his belt as well as a couple dozen more hits by the time of the above clip. So naturally his demeanor would exude far more confidence than the Welk Show appearances made in the earliest stages of his career.

      Post script to Pride’s Welk Show appearances. Charley & his manager Jack Johnson created a very successful publishing company Pi-Gem Music. When Charley and Jack ended their business relationship Pride bought out Jack’s share. According to Charley that company was sold to the Welk Music group for $4.8 million in 1981. When Charley first appeared on Welk’s show in the late 1960’s Welk probably never dreamed that he’d ever be giving Charley a check of that magnitude years later.

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