Charley Pride will be in Mackay in November as part of his tour of Australia.
Charley Pride will be in Mackay in November as part of his tour of Australia. Contributed

Charley Pride down under for first tour in two decades

CHARLEY Pride is living proof that good music never goes out of style.

The African-American country music singer, who has sold more than 70 million albums, is touring Australia for the first time in 17 years this November.

And Pride's new greatest hits album, 40 Years of Pride, is quickly rising up the ARIA albums chart.

After just two weeks it's sitting at No 15, just behind Daft Punk's Random Access Memories and ahead of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines.

The Grammy Award winner and Country Music Hall of Fame member, who also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was in the country last year for a private show but hasn't toured Down Under in nearly two decades.

"This guy who has trucks all over Australia, his son brought my band over to do a show," Pride told APN.

"He was a big fan of mine, so his son asked me to come over and do a show for his birthday.

"But other than that it has been quite a while. I hadn't planned for it to be that long."

The 75-year-old is speaking to me from his home in Dallas, where he's watching the Texas Rangers, the baseball team in which he is a minority owner, play the New York Yankees.

"I'm just a small, part owner," he said.

"I tell people we have two billionaires and us little fellas that own the team."

He has fond memories of his early visits to Australia, where he has a loyal fan base.

"You had 13 million people when I first started coming over," he said.

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"I did a tour over there called Travelling with Charley Pride. I sold 250,000 albums on that tour. They calculated that it was an album that every household in Australia had one."

Pride said he has a new "repackaged" show he'll be performing for Aussie fans in November.

"I'm a very fortunate entertainer. Some entertainers don't have but one signature song; I have four or five," he said.

"What we do is we interchange songs. There are certain songs you won't be able to take out, those four or five signature songs. But we'll insert around those songs that we haven't done in quite a long time.

"Then we insert some medleys. Here's the deal, when they see a Charley Pride show they're going to leave hearing everything I've ever done."

Pride was hoping that the major feature film about his life would have been released before he returned to Australia, but the project has been delayed.

Terrence Howard was lined up to play Pride, but the Hollywood writer's strike forced Paramount to put the film on hold.

"They had a writers strike, and everything just went caput," Pride said.

But he's still hopeful that the film will get made.

"We've got enough people now chewing at it," he said.

"Somebody's going to have to get it off the pot."

As well as being a massive baseball fan, Pride also follows tennis and golf.

But he doesn't plan to bring his clubs with him on tour.

"I used to be a nine handicap, now I've gone to 25," he said.

"After about eight holes if I can't get it straightened out then I'm gone. Whatever I do I like to do a good job of it."

Charley Pride plays Toowoomba's Empire Theatre on November 15, the Mackay Entertainment Centre on November 17, the Arts Centre Gold Coast on November 18 and QPAC's Concert Hall in Brisbane on November 20.

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