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 pop music stars, who did not enjoy as successful a career as most of his contemporaries.
Pride was born at 74 Parchmore Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey. He attended John Newnham Secondary school [Addington] before he visited 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 his stage name, Dickie Pride. At 16, he gave his first concert, as Dickie Pride at the Kilburn Gaumont State Cinema, 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, the first single "Slippin' and Slidin'" (a cover of the 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. Despite his live performances, with most of his subsequent recordings, commercially Pride was far below expectations. The only single of Pride's that ever made it into the Top 40 in the UK Singles Chart - "Primrose Lane" appeared in October 1959 for only one week in 28th place.
Television producer, Jack Good had seen Pride sing in Southend. In April 1960 the first edition of Good's rock and roll TV show, Wham! was shown on ABC-TV, and included Pride. The guitarist, Albert Lee, had his first professional stage appearance as an accompanist of Pride.
Pride was very successful during live performances but had difficulty transferring this success to his recordings. In 1961 Parnes attempted to reposition Pride 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.
On 26 March 1969, Pride was found dead in his bed. He died at the age of 27 due to an overdose of sleeping pills. Fellow Parnes' artists such as Billy Fury and Joe Brown stated that Pride had been the most talented singer of Parnes' artists.