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Posted by on Jun 20, 2022 in Blog, Music and Concert Reviews | 0 comments

Classic Concert Reviews: Charley Pride, Tingley Coliseum, Albuquerque, NM, 1971



Classic Concert Reviews: Charley Pride, Tingley Coliseum, Albuquerque, NM, 1971

Note: Here’s my new writing series of mostly brief concert reviews and what I remember about various shows, performances, and events over the years. Some reviews will be short, while others will be longer and more detailed. It all depends on what I remember and what research is available on those old concert dates. I hope you like reliving these experiences and enjoy the remembrances along with me.


Albums and live concerts are not merely sounds as much as they are signposts. Certain songs and performances mark a rite of passage and do become the accompanying soundtrack to our lives.

The first live concert I remember attending was a Charley Pride performance in 1971.

Charley Pride was a pioneer in so many ways. Just the fact he was a Black man in what had traditionally been the overwhelmingly White citadel of country-western music made him remarkable. To the credit of country audiences back then, Pride was welcomed for his many contributions, praised and respected for his talent, and truly beloved for his many catchy songs. Ironically, those same audiences might have been responsible for many of the hardships suffered by Pride’s brethren and his ancestors. In many cases, they were the very culprits — and certainly the descendants of the guilty — but one didn’t sense that race was any detriment to his success as a widely-popular recording artist and live performer, who wrote most of his own songs. To the contrary, Charley Pride was right up there on the marques with the biggest names in country, along with Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Merle Haggard. At the height of his popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Pride was every bit as popular.

Back then, I knew none of this. My parents divorced when I was very young. In a sort of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore childhood story, my mother struggled to raise a son who was a handful. In 1971, she was 28 years old. I was 9. In the movie, Alice moved to Phoenix. We lived in Albuquerque. And that’s where our crossroads passed at one moment in time.

My mother tried to have a normal life and dated like any normal attractive young lady in her 20s. One of those dates turned out to be with a guy who had tickets to a live music show. Oh, and this boyfriend played his cards right — he bought THREE tickets. One for me.

Tingley Coliseum was (and is) located on the grounds of the New Mexico State Fair in central Albuquerque. It’s an 11,000-seat venue constructed during the 1930s by funds from FDR’s Works Progress Administration (which left us with many monuments to progress which still stand and remain in use today). It’s not quite big enough to host any major league sports franchise, but it’s a perfect one-level venue for horse shows and music concerts.

I have no recollection of knowing anything whatsoever about Charley Pride before that night in the fall of and annual New Mexico State Fair, held every October. For this article, I did some research and discovered he played Tingley Coliseum at the fairgrounds each year from 1971-1975.  I may have heard and recalled his monster hit, “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’,” one of his thirty #1 country hits which was his highest crossover song hit to chart. But I can’t exactly swear to it.

What I do remember is sitting in perfect seats, about midway up in the middle section, in a sold-out arena, and the roar of the crowd when the lights dimmed and a single spotlight focused on the silhouette of a “colored” man in a flashy rhinestone-laden jacket with boots wielding a guitar.

This was the era before light shows, and stunts, and spectacles, and surprises. Charley Pride gave a straightforward performance of predictable sing-a-long tunes, and the devoted country crowd seemed to know every single word and often sang along as his backup. It was a throwback, about to become archaic of a time long gone, a final gasp of music and showmanship that was about to radically change. Although rock and R&B and other forms of music had gone pizzazz years earlier, country-western audiences still relished in tradition. Those expectations were about to be shattered in just a couple of years by acts like Willie Nelson and the so-called outlaws.

Of course, to a wide-eyed 9-year-old boy raised by a single mother crashing her date night as a tagalong, seeing my first music show, Charley Pride–no less, might as well have been witnessing Elvis or the Beatles.

It was Charley Pride. And, it was fantastic.


This undated photo shows what a concert at Tingley Coliseum from that time frame looked like. The performer is also not known, but the stage was set up in a similar manner when Charley Pride performed. The country audience was much more subdued, but loved every moment of that 1971 show.

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