In Memoriam: Mickey Gilley (1936-2022)

Country music legend Mickey Gilley has died at the age of 86.

The Washington Post reports:

Mickey Gilley, a country singer-songwriter who crossed over into mainstream pop culture after his namesake Texas honky-tonk inspired the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy,” died May 7 in Branson, Mo. He was 86.

Mr. Gilley began performing in the 1950s but found little success before opening opened Gilley’s, “the world’s largest honky tonk,” in Pasadena, Tex., in the early 1970s. By mid-decade, he was a successful club owner and was tasting his first commercial success as a singer with “Room Full of Roses.” He began turning out country hits regularly, including “Window Up Above,” “She’s Pulling Me Back Again” and the honky-tonk anthem “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time.”

Such hit songs as “Stand By Me” and “Lonely Nights” created a bridge from the artist’s country roots to an ascension on pop charts and were credited with popularizing the Urban Cowboy movement.

He had 39 Top 10 country hits and 17 No. 1 songs and received six Academy of Country Music Awards. He also worked on occasion as an actor, with appearances on “Murder, She Wrote,” “The Fall Guy,” “Fantasy Island” and “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Gilley’s giant nightspot, which included a mechanical bull, led to the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy,” directed by James Bridges and starring John Travolta and Debra Winger. The film was based on an Esquire article by Aaron Latham about the relationship between two regulars at the club.

Our condolences to Mickey Gilley’s family, friends and fans.

1 Comment

  1. Mickey Gilley has grown on me tremendously over the years. I hate to see another ship go out of the country music harbour. These era-defining artists had such wide-reaching influence on the genre’s growth and reach. Garth doesn’t happen without Gilley. I adore “Lonely Nights.” This loss hurts worse than I imagined it would. I pulled out his two record “Ten Years of Hits” collection on. Vinyl and cried unexpected tears.

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