NEW YORK (AP) \u2014 Charley Pride, country music\u2019s first Black superstar whose rich baritone on such hits as \u201cKiss an Angel Good Morning\u201d helped sell millions of records and made him the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, has died. He was 86. Pride died Saturday in Dallas of complications from Covid-19, according to Jeremy Westby of the public relations firm 2911 Media. \u201cI\u2019m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away. It\u2019s even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you,\u201d Dolly Parton tweeted. Pride released dozens of albums and sold more than 25 million records during a career that began in the mid-1960s. Hits besides \u201cKiss an Angel Good Morning\u201d in 1971 included \u201cIs Anybody Goin\u2019 to San Antone,\u201d \u201cBurgers and Fries,\u201d \u201cMountain of Love,\u201d and \u201cSomeone Loves You Honey.\u201d He had three Grammy Awards, more than 30 No. 1 hits between 1969 and 1984, won the Country Music Association\u2019s Top Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year awards in 1972 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. The Smithsonian in Washington acquired memorabilia from Pride, including a pair of boots and one of his guitars, for the the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Ronnie Milsap called him a \u201cpioneer\u201d and said that without his encouragement, Milsap might never gone to Nashville. \u201cTo hear this news tears out a piece of my heart,\u201d he said in a statement. Other Black country stars came before Pride, namely DeFord Bailey, who was an Grand Ole Opry member between 1927 and 1941. But until the early 1990s, when Cleve Francis came along, Pride was the only Black country singer signed to a major label. In 1993, he joined the Opry cast in Nashville. \u201cThey used to ask me how it feels to be the `first colored country singer,\u2018\u201d he told The Dallas Morning News in 1992. \u201cThen it was `first Negro country singer;\u2019 then `first black country singer.\u2032 Now I\u2019m the `first African-American country singer.\u2032 That\u2019s about the only thing that\u2019s changed. This country is so race-conscious, so ate-up with colors and pigments. I call it `skin hangups\u2019 \u2014 it\u2019s a disease.\u201d Pride was raised in Sledge, Mississippi, the son of a sharecropper. He had seven brothers and three sisters. In 2008 while accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the Mississippi Governor\u2019s Awards for Excellence in the Arts, Pride said he never focused on race. \u201cMy older sister one time said, \u2018Why are you singing THEIR music?\u2019\u201d Pride said. \u201cBut we all understand what the y\u2019all-and-us-syndrome has been. See, I never as an individual accepted that, and I truly believe that\u2019s why I am where I am today.\u201d As a young man before launching his singing career, he was a pitcher and outfielder in the Negro American League with the Memphis Red Sox and in the Pioneer League in Montana. After playing minor league baseball a couple of years, he ended up in Helena, Montana, where he worked in a zinc smelting plant by day and played country music in nightclubs at night. Pride was part of the Texas Rangers\u2019 ownership group for the last 10 years and the team will fly the flags at half-staff at Globe Life Field and Globe Life Park on Sunday and Monday in his memory. \u201cThe Texas Rangers join the country music world in mourning the loss of Charley Pride. While Mr. Pride was a legendary performer who entertained millions of fans in the United States and around the world, we will remember him as a true friend to this franchise,\u201d the team said in a statement. After a tryout with the New York Mets, Pride visited Nashville and broke into country music when Chet Atkins, head of RCA Records, heard two of his demo tapes and signed him. To ensure that Pride was judged on his music and not his race, his first few singles were sent to radio stations without a publicity photo. After his identity became known, a few country radio stations refused to play his music. For the most part, though, Pride said he was well received. Early in his career, he would put white audiences at ease when he joked about his \u201cpermanent tan.\u201d \u201cMusic is the greatest communicator on the planet Earth,\u201d he said in 1992. \u201cOnce people heard the sincerity in my voice and heard me project and watched my delivery, it just dissipated any apprehension or bad feeling they might have had.\u201d Throughout his career, he sang positive songs instead of sad ones often associated with country music. \u201cMusic is a beautiful way of expressing oneself and I truly believe music should not be taken as a protest,\u201d he told The Associated Press in 1985. \u201cYou can go too far in anything \u2014 singing, acting, whatever \u2014 and become politicized to the point you cease to be an entertainer.\u201d In 1994, he wrote his autobiography, \u201cPride: The Charley Pride Story,\u201d in which he disclosed he was mildly manic depressive. He had surgery in 1997 to remove a tumor from his right vocal cord. He received the Living Legend award from The Nashville Network\/Music City News, recognizing 30 years of achievement, in 1997. \u201cI\u2019d like to be remembered as a good person who tried to be a good entertainer and made people happy, was a good American who paid his taxes and made a good living,\u201d he said in 1985. \u201cI tried to do my best and contribute my part.\u201d He is survived by his wife, Rozene, whom he married in 1956; three children, Kraig, Dion and Angela; and several grandchildren.