Dickie Pride (21 October 1941 – 26 March 1969), born Richard Charles Kneller, was a British rock and roll singer. He was one of Larry Parnes' stable of rock music stars, who did not enjoy as successful a career as most of his contemporaries.
Life and career
Pride was born at 74 Parchmore Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey, now in Croydon. He attended John Newnham Secondary School in Addington before visiting the School of Church Music in Croydon, where a career as an opera singer was suggested. Later on Pride was a member of a skiffle group, the Semi-Tones.
He had several poorly paid jobs. Russ Conway heard him performing at the Castle public house in Tooting, south London. Conway recommended him to Larry Parnes, who immediately signed him. Parnes gave him the stage name 'Dickie Pride'. At 16, he gave his first concert as Dickie Pride at the Gaumont State Cinema in Kilburn, which was then the biggest cinema in the United Kingdom. The music magazine Record Mirror stated that "he ripped it up from the start" and that the theatre shook so much during his performance that he should be known "The sheik of shake".
This was followed by tours, television and, in March 1959, his debut single, "Slippin' and Slidin'" (a cover of a song made famous by Little Richard). He also performed in 'The Big Beat Show' at Southend with Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Terry Dene, Johnny Gentle, Duffy Power and Sally Kelly. However, the commercial performance of most of Pride's recordings was far below expectations. The only Pride single that ever made it into the Top 40 in the UK Singles Chart, "Primrose Lane", appeared in October 1959 for only one week at No. 28.
Television producer Jack Good had seen Pride sing in Southend. The first edition of Good's rock and roll TV show Wham!, shown on ABC-TV in April 1960, included Pride. Guitarist Albert Lee made his first professional stage appearance as an accompanist for Pride.
Pride was very successful during live performances, but had difficulty transferring this success to his recordings. In 1961, Parnes attempted to reposition him as a mainstream singer, and he made an album of 'Tin Pan Alley' standards with Eric Jupp and his Orchestra, called Pride Without Prejudice. However, the record sold very poorly and Pride was subsequently dropped by Parnes. He later formed several other groups, including the Guvnors and the Sidewinders.
In addition to mental health problems, Pride was under the influence of drugs, including heroin. In 1962 he married, and in 1965, his son was born. His musical career however started to decline. In 1967, he was submitted to a psychiatric clinic, where a lobotomy was performed.
Pride was found dead in his bed on 26 March 1969. He died at the age of 27 by an overdose of sleeping pills. Fellow Parnes artists such as Billy Fury and Joe Brown stated that Pride had been the most talented singer on Parnes' roster.
- "Slippin' And Slidin'" / "Don't Make Me Love You" - Columbia DB 4283 - 1959
- "Frantic" / "Primrose Lane" - Columbia DB 4340 - 1959 - UK No. 28
- "Fabulous Cure" / "Midnight Oil" - Columbia DB 4296 - 1959
- "Betty Betty (Go Steady With Me)" / "No John" - Columbia DB 4403 - 1960
- "Bye Bye Blackbird" / "You're Singin' Our Love Song To Somebody Else" - Columbia - DB 4451 - 1960
- "The Sheik Of Shake" - Columbia - SEG 7937 - 1959
- The Sheik of Shake - See for Miles Records - 1992
- Slippin 'N' Sliding with Dickie Pride - Rigsby Records RIGCD-7752
- The Complete Dickie Pride - Peaksoft PEA009 - 2010
- Compilations featuring Pride
- Great British Rock & Roll: As Good As It Gets - Disky Communications Europe BV 300
- "Dickie Pride". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 July 2010.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. pp. 71 & 81. CN 5585.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 438. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "DICKIE PRIDE "PRIDE WITHOUT PREJUDICE" COLUMBIA SCX3369 - auction details". popsike.com. Retrieved 29 June 2014.