There’s a battle brewing over the estate of Grammy-winning country star Charley Pride, fueled by a son few knew existed.
Pride died from COVID-19 in December.
Now Tyler Pride has come forward as the family “secret.”
Tyler’s story started with an affair between his mother, a flight attendant, and his father, country music’s first Black superstar.
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At the time of their relationship, Charley was already married to his wife of more than 60 years, Rozene, and the couple had three children.
Later, a paternity case would confirm Tyler was also Charley’s son.
“We made it through and had the best relationship that we could, per the circumstances,” said Tyler. “We still got to talk on the phone a lot and get to know each other that way, but it was difficult because of his situation and having to keep peace at home, as he put it over and over.”
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Tyler said his father visited when he could. And even after he turned 18 and Charley’s obligation to financially support him ended, he said his father stayed involved in his life.
But when Charley died of COVID-19, Tyler said the family hadn’t even told him his father was sick.
His name wasn’t included in the obituary, and he said he wasn’t allowed at the funeral.
He also wasn’t named in Charley’s will, which Tyler has filed a lawsuit to contest.
In it, he points to “undue influence” he believes Rozene had over her husband, who’d publicly acknowledged mental health struggles.
"I don't think he could imagine that this is going on right now and I don't think it's what he wanted. Because he always said he wanted his kids taken care of equally. Up until his death, that's what I was told every time we talked,” said Tyler.
Through her attorney Will Hartnett, Rozene issued a statement:
Over the years, Charley and I provided gifts and financial assistance to Tyler, but Charley never included Tyler as a beneficiary in his estate planning until 2020. Tyler does not have a valid claim so he has resorted to a hurtful smear campaign. His attack on Charley hurts me and his other children deeply, but we all know that Charley was doing great physically and mentally and making his own decisions until he was taken down by Covid. Much of what Tyler is saying about Charley and me is a lie that Tyler hopes reporters will spread to grab headlines. On July 24, 2020, two weeks before Charley signed the documents attacked by Tyler, Charley sang a beautiful a cappella version of the Star Spangled Banner at the Texas Rangers’ first game in their new stadium. It was a difficult situation because of Covid protocols and having to perform in an empty stadium, other than the players, but Charley handled it like the amazing performer he always was. Three months later, on November 11, 2020, Charley received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award at the nationally televised CMA Awards in Nashville and performed live. It was his last performance before his death.
But Tyler maintains this isn't a financial fight, saying it's about honoring his father's wishes and finally being recognized as his son.
“He is my dad and I’m proud to be able to tell that part of the story because I am part of his story," said Tyler.
In Texas, the law allows parents to leave children out of their will if they choose to do so.