Thursday, August 17, 2006
Charley Pride Celebrates 40 Years In Country Music
The ground-breaking entertainer Charley Pride (by far the most successful black artist in country music until the integrated Big & Rich came along) is releasing a new album to celebrate his 40 years in the industry. It's a gospel album, with Pride dueting with Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. But this caught my eye: the BBC says Pride is RCA's second-best selling artist after Elvis and that he's sold 70 million records around the world. He's also got 36 #1 singles on the country charts. Hmm, well he hasn't been on the Billboard Top 200 since 1981 and not one of his albums has ever gone platinum. (Ten went gold.) So how could that possibly add up to 70 million records. Maybe it's the use of the word "records" instead of album? Maybe they've added up every single and counted them the same as the sale of an LP to get to 70 million. Still an impressive figure. But I have to assume that Pride's album sales in the US are much closer to, say, a very generous 15 million. And exactly how many albums do we expect a black country singer to be selling overseas? Nothing can take away from his accomplishments, but inflating sales figures does Pride no service.