There will never be another Charley Pride. The country singer had a voice that was uniquely him, that made his songs sing like velvet. One of Pride’s most famous songs is “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin,'” which topped the charts 48 years ago today.
Pride may be gone. The singer passed away on Dec. 12 from COVID-19 complications. But he lives on in his music, and “Kiss an Angel” is among his crowning achievements. The song plays like a romantic ballad, of a man star-struck by the love that he feels for his wife.
But frequent collaborator Ben Peters actually developed the song about a parent’s love for their children. His wife had recently had a baby girl named Angela. One morning when he kissed the baby goodbye before heading to work, the lyrics came to him.
Charley Pride Didn’t Think the Song Would Be a Hit
Upon hearing Peters’ composition, Pride was excited to record the song. But he also didn’t think the tune would be a country hit, much less a national sensation. Upon release, the song not only topped the country charts. But it also proved popular in the adult contemporary and pop genres. Fans couldn’t get enough.
“‘Kiss An Angel’ is a clear example of a record that was not recorded to be a crossover record. And all that sort of hocus-pocus, and it became a million-seller,” Pride said, according to Song Facts. “You know, people at radio stations say, ‘Well, Charley’s good. But he’s country, so we’ll have to penalize him for bein’ traditional.’ I knew a guy who had a lot of radio stations. And he told me just before ‘Kiss An Angel’ came out, ‘As long as you have steel guitars on your records, I’m not gonna play ’em.'”
But all that changed when Pride’s latest song came out.
“And then ‘Kiss An Angel’ came out and went to the Top 20 in pop,” Pride continued. “Because a lot of MOR people and pop people decided to play it. And a million people went out and bought it. So there is a lot of so-called experts out there tryin’ to put a format together about who’s middle-of-the-road, and who’s country, and who’s contemporary. But all those kinds of music have been borrowin’ from each other for so long that I think it’s time to stop punishing one another from the standpoint of airplay.”
The song helped Pride win a Grammy in 1973. And he played the tune in 2017 when he accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award. Several other artists have recorded the song since then including Neal McCoy and Darius Rucker.