Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Charley Pride, “Night Games”

“Night Games”

Charley Pride

Written by Blake Mevis and Norro Wilson

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

September 9, 1983


#1 (1 week)

September 17, 1983

Charley Pride’s final No. 1 single is a historical marker for his own career as well as for those of all Black artists in country music, as it would be 25 years after “Night Games” before another Black man had a No. 1 country hit.

Sadly, after a string of fantastic chart toppers, Pride goes out with a whimper here.  

“Night Games” is the weakest of his eighties No.1 hits.  The songwriting is slight, his vocal performance is wobbly, and the brassy arrangement and cheesy background vocals make it sound like the theme song to a primetime game show. 

Pride would have two more top ten hits with RCA before signing with independent label 16th Avenue records, which signed multiple legendary singers after their major label runs came to an end.  Pride did well on the label through the end of the decade, earning a top five single and an additional two top fifteen singles for them. 

As with most artists of his era, he was off the radio completely by the turn of the decade, though one of his final radio singles, “Whole Lotta Love On the Line,” would eventually become a hit for its co-writer Aaron Tippin.

Pride received multiple honors following his radio run, including induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.  Shortly after the CMA gave him their own Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020, Pride passed away from COVID-19.

“Night Games” gets a C-.  

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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1 Comment

  1. Pride fully owned this new sound to immediate and tremendous success right out of the gates, but I do agree he seems to be having a hard time seeing the end game with this single.

    What was fresh and exciting suddenly feels restrictive and limiting. He sounds tentative and slightly disengaged, as though he isn’t as fully behind this new style as much as he was earlier.

    Imagine if artists like Pride could have hung on to the late eighties to reclaim their traditional tendencies and sounds. Or, more to the point, imagine radio embracing that return to form.

    As with the recent John Conlee hit, I will still take a tentative Charley Pride over say TG Sheppard finding his full sleazy stride.

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