Observations and Ramblings from a Cranky Old Guy
Written by Jeff Spaulding on December 28, 2020
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
While there’s no guarantee 2021 will be better than 2020, we all pray it CAN’T be any worse.
At minimum we all at least know SOMEONE who tested positive for COVID, and unfortunately many experienced the pain and suffering of a friend or loved one who passed due to (at least in part) complications of the illness.
As I write this (December13th), I learned of a giant in the entertainment field to pass away.
In a moment, I will share a list of others in the “entertainment” field to also leave us.
One, it’s an incomplete list, and two, it does NOT make these people any more important or “special” than Joe or Jane Lunch Bucket.
For example, during the AIDS epidemic, it was treated as a Black Death Plague, it only dealt with homosexuals. Even the President of the United States ignored it, perhaps thinking it would just blow away.
Sorry, wrong president.
Then one celebrity who got AIDS made it acceptable, made it a worthy fight for the good of America, if not the world.
The He Man’s He Man…if ROCK could get it, we’re all doomed.
(Of course, at the time most people still didn’t accept Rock was gay, didn’t matter, it got President Reagan to FINALLY address it).
Now, the COVID Celebrity Death List, in no particular order.
David Prowse – the “body” of Darth Vader
Tommy DeVito – founding member of the Four Seasons
Tom Seaver – Amazin’ Met
Trini Lopez – Latin singer and actor
Roy Horn – as in “Sigfried and —”
John Prine – if you don’t know who he is you shouldn’t be reading this
Adam Schlesinger – co founder of Fountains of Wayne
Joe Diffie – Country…strike that…Hillbilly Singer
Ellis Marsalis Jr – patriarch of a jazz dynasty
Again, just a small handful, but tragic all the same
Now, as mentioned above, the latest giant to fall from COVID.
“Country” Charley Pride, at age 86.
Pride one of my all-time favorite country performers.
Notice I didn’t say “Black” country performers.
He didn’t get into the business to be a “Black” country performer.
He got into the business to be just a country performer.
It sure wasn’t easy.
In his early days, according to legend, his record company kept his picture off the releases they sent to the radio stations.
God knows, (their words, not mine) those stations would never play music by Negroes…
(History or not, I will not put the REAL word they used).
Charley Pride became a star because of his talent, not/never because of his skin color.
As it should be.
Tell you a true story that happened in my early days of professional radio.
I’m in Ashland, Ohio, about a half hour before my graveyard shift.
I am live in the studio with the guy I will relieve, and he’s about to introduce the new Charley Pride song.
Remember how he is known as “Country Charley Pride?”
This douche, accidentally or not, calls him “colored Charley Pride” live on the air.
I’m in shock and scream at him, asking why he did that, he calmly points to the quiet phones and says:
“Well the phones aren’t ringing, either they aren’t listening or they don’t care.”
This was 1978.
Point of reference, no one ever did.
To be fair, during that same time, I played a song by Freddie Fender (known for “Before the Last Teardrop Falls”), and referred to him on the air (in a play-on the Lee Majors TV Hit) as the “Six Million Dollar Mexican,” and not one call or complaint.
Right or wrong it was just the way it was.
Here’s something you may not know about Charley Pride, since 1968, he was being treated for manic depression (they call it “bi-polar” now).
To someone going through that, especially a friend or family member to someone going through that, it’s more than amazing Pride’s career was as gigantic as it was.
Speaking of career, the man had TWENTY-NINE chart singles to hit NUMBER-ONE, as well as NINE albums to hit NUMBER-ONE as well.
Finally, and this is the ONLY time to mention the “Black” thing when it comes to Country Charley Pride, if not for him, there’s no Kane Brown, there’s no Cowboy Troy, there’s no Darius Ricker, among others.
On that note, screw 2020, pray for 2021.
Be hearing you