Country star Mickey Gilley, the Texas honky tonk that bears his name, has passed away. He was the inspiration for “Urban Cowboy,” a 1980 film about a Texas honky-tonk, and a wave of Western-themed nightclubs across the country. He was 86.
Gilley, who was the former owner of the Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre in Branson, Missouri, died Saturday. He was in declining health for the past week, although he had been performing since last month.
According to a statement by Mickey Gilley Associates, “He died peacefully with his close family and friends by his side.”
Gilley, a cousin to rock ‘n’ rolling pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis, opened Gilley’s in Pasadena in the 1970s. In the middle of the decade, he was a successful club entrepreneur and had achieved his first commercial success with “Room Full of Roses”.
He had 39 Top 10 Country hits and 17 No. 1 songs. 1 song. Six Academy of Country Music Awards were presented to him. He also performed as an actor on occasions, appearing on “Murder She Wrote”, “The Fall Guy,” and “Fantasy Island.”
Gilley stated that if he had one wish, it would be more time. This was in March 2001 when he was celebrating his 65th birthday. The singer stated that he would do it any other way.
“I do exactly what I want. He said that he plays golf, flies his plane, and performs at Branson’s theater. “I love performing for people.”
Meanwhile, the attractions at the massive nightspot, including the famous mechanical bull, led to the production of the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy”, starring John Travolta, and Debra Winger, and was inspired by an Esquire article by Aaron Latham on the relationship between Gilley’s club regulars.
Gilley stated to the AP that John Travolta is the reason he wakes me up every night before I go to bed. “It’s difficult to express how grateful I am for my involvement in ‘Urban Cowboy. It had a tremendous impact on my career and it still does.”
The soundtrack featured such hits as Johnny Lee’s “Lookin’ For Love,” Boz Scaggs’ “Look What You’ve Done For Me” and Gilley’s ‘Stand by Me.” The film made Pasadena club a tourist attraction overnight and promoted pearl snap shirts and longneck beers across the country.
The club was closed down by Gilley and Sherwood Cryer, who argued over the management of the club. It was soon destroyed by fire.
In 2003, a new version of Gilley’s Nightclub was opened in Dallas. Gilley has moved to Branson in recent years.
He was married three more times, most recently to Cindy Loeb Gilley. He had four children with Geraldine Garrett, his first wife, and Vivian McDonald, his second wife.
Born in Natchez, Mississippi, Gilley was raised poor and learned boogie-woogie piano from his cousin Jimmy Swaggart. He would sneak into Louisiana clubs to hear rhythm and blues, just like Lewis. He was a Houstonian who moved to Houston to work in construction. However, he played nightclub music and recorded for many years before becoming a household name in the 1970s.
Gilley had experienced health issues in the past. After being diagnosed with hydrocephalus (a condition that causes fluid to build up in the brain), he underwent brain surgery in august 2008. Gilley, who had suffered from short-term memory impairment, credited the surgery for preventing the onset of dementia.
After he fell from a step in 2009, he had to have more surgery. He was forced to cancel Branson’s performances. He suffered a fractured right shoulder and ankle in an auto accident in 2018.