EAST HELENA — East Helena is honoring a music superstar who started his illustrious career there.
Mayor James Schell and the East Helena City Council proclaimed Wednesday as “Charley Pride Day,” recognizing the country music legend, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 86.
“On this day, we shall officially honor Charley Pride and recognize the joy he has given so many in this city, community, state, and country with his incredible singing and musical talents,” the proclamation read.
Pride, a native of Mississippi, came to Montana in 1960 to play baseball for the Missoula Timberjacks of the Pioneer League.
After he was let go, he took a job at the ASARCO lead smelter in East Helena and pitched for their semi-pro Smelterites baseball team.
Pride’s singing career began in earnest when Smelterites manager Kes Rigler paid him $10 to perform before games. He started to perform at clubs around the area with a combo called the Night Hawks.
The proclamation notes that, in 1961, the city of East Helena hired Pride as one of several new “labor or truck drivers.” However, his music eventually got him attention across Montana and beyond. After several years, he signed a national record deal and went on to stardom with hit songs like “Kiss an Angel Good Morning.”
Charley Pride also lived on Peosta Avenue in Helena for several years. In 1964, he applied to join the Helena Fire Department but was not selected.