HomeEF CountryRissi Palmer & Darius Rucker Talk About the Genius of Charley Pride

Rissi Palmer & Darius Rucker Talk About the Genius of Charley Pride

On this week’s episode of ‘Rhinestone Radio’, Sam Stephens sits down with guests Rissi Palmer and Darius Rucker to mine the genius of an icon, Charley Pride.

Fellow Apple Music Country host Rissi Palmer shares her favourite Charley Pride song and how he influenced her definition of country music. South Carolina native Darius Rucker touches on Charley Pride’s influence on his personal music career and his opinion on Charley and George Jones’ reconciliation. 

Listen to the episode in-full anytime on-demand at and read some quotes from the episode below:

Rissi Palmer on why Charley Pride could build on what Ray Charles started

Sam Stephens: “There’s a lot of conversation right now about what is country, what isn’t country. Who gets to decide? Who died and made you an arbiter of taste? Who gets to decide who is in the club and who is out of the club? And it always comes back to the sonic evolution where, this doesn’t sound like country music. Well, what does country music sound like? And part of the reason why Charley is so integral to this conversation, is because when the Nashville Sound ushered in a new era, moving away from Appalachia. When all of that was already new enough to popular culture, country music dressing up, country music having string arrangements. There being coral background vocals, it having just a little bit of extra jingle and sparkle to it. That’s already jarring enough for people who are used to picking parties on WSM, but then you usher in an African-American man who arguably can do it just as good, if not better than his caucasian counterparts. You can’t have this conversation without him.”

Rissi Palmer: “No. Well, I’m going to even take it a little bit further because I think that Charley built on something that Ray Charles actually started. When Ray Charles did Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music in 1962, it was intentionally slick. It was intentionally pop. It was intentionally strings. It was intentionally with these beautiful backgrounds and these very strait-laced, not the Raelettes, but very strait-laced harmonies and angelic sounding things. And I think that it planted a seed. I think it planted a seed. Number one that, Black people like this stuff. And then number two, I think it planted a seed, this is lush. The sound of this is like, this is sexy. This is something we may want to do.”

Rissi Palmer on ‘Roll on Mississippi

Rissi Palmer: “I was hoping you were going to ask me what my favorite was, because that’s what I’m going to say. “Roll on Mississippi” is the … I close the show with that, and it makes me cry every time I hear it. My grandmother, I was very close to my grandmother. My grandmother was about the same age as Charley. I’m a historical buff, and so to know the things that she was coming up in and to know the type of poverty that she grew up in … My great grandmother’s house is still standing. The fact that they raised the whole family in this very, very small … a house about the size of this room that I’m in right now. And the racial disparities, it was racism concentrate back then. You could be killed. Whenever she talked about her childhood, that never factored in because she always talked about how good it was. When you’re a kid and you’re growing up in it, I don’t think you see it as bad. I think you see it as, “This is just my life, and this is what it is. My mama loves me. My daddy loves me. My brothers and sisters, we have a place to sleep, we have food to eat, and we have places to play. We may not have shoes, but we’re running around barefoot on the softest grass,” and that kind of thing. 

Sam Stephens: “In my home, I am safe.”

Rissi Palmer: “Yeah. Yes, and around my people, I am safe.”

Sam Stephens: “I’m safe.”

Rissi Palmer: “… and I’m around people that love me and that kind of thing. So when I hear that song, that’s who I think of, and that’s what I think of.”

Darius Rucker on Charley Pride’s zodiac skills

“Charley had this great thing that he would do that always just amazed me when we were out in public. If he met you at any time, he knew what your zodiac was.”

Sam Stephens: “Oh my God, Darius. I’m not kidding. He did this to me.”

Darius Rucker: “Yes.”

Sam Stephens: “Rewind, rewind. I was having the same conversation with Rissi. I got sent to interview him and I’d prepared, I’d given my notes, and immediately he goes, “Are you a Libra?” And I’m like, “Why yes, Mr. Pride. I am a Libra.”

Darius Rucker: “Yes, and the funny thing about that that he did is he would do that and then he would see you again eight months later, right? He would walk over and he’d go, [“Sam, Libra,” and he never forgot anybody’s zodiac. Anybody. It was amazing. Charley was one of those guys, he was the perfect kind of superstar. He knew he was a superstar and it didn’t affect who he was at all. He didn’t care. He didn’t want to tell anybody. It was like him being a plumber. It was just what he did, and he was the nicest human being I knew.”

Darius Rucker on the friendship between Charley Pride and George Jones

Darius Rucker: “He did this song late in his career with George Jones called … God, what’s the name of the song? It’s a song about a friend being in trouble and calling his friend up. I think it’s called “I’ll Bring The Beer.” It is one of his least probably heard songs, I’ll let people know, but it’s an absolute … him and George Jones together, it’s an absolute masterpiece.”

Sam Stephens: “I also want to say how important it is their friendship and their coming together, because they didn’t necessarily get off on the right foot at first.”

Darius Rucker: “They didn’t. They didn’t start off well.”

Sam Stephens: “No.”

Darius Rucker: “I’ve heard some awful stories of the stuff George did to Charley at the beginning. And for Charley to be a big enough man and for George to be a big enough man to put that behind them later on in life, and George to apologize the way he did. And Charley to accept that apology, and them becoming really good friends, I think is really … it’s big on both their parts, and really great for country music.”

Listen to the episode in-full anytime on-demand at

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