Mickey Gilley, Whose Career Got a Jolt from 'Urban Cowboy,' Dies at 86
Mickey Gilley, the country singer whose club provided the setting of the hit 1980 film "Urban Cowboy," has died at 86.
THR reports Gilley died in Branson, Missouri, where he was active as the owner of the Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre. He performed until the final month of his life.
A statement from Mickey Gilley Associates said, "He passed peacefully with his family and close friends by his side."
He had endured health woes for years, including brain surgery 14 years ago, a temporarily paralyzing accident in 2009, and fractured bones from a car crash.
Born March 9, 1936, in Natchez, Misssissippi, he was the cousin of rock legend Jerry Lee Lewis, who is still living at 86. His early musical endeavors were nothing compared to his cousin's, so he initially focused on managing a honky-tonk.
It was a fortuitous detour.
The singer's Gilley's Club was a staple of nightlife in Pasadena, Texas, from the early '70s, and his music career got a second chance when he struck gold on the country charts with songs like his incredibly 17 #1 country hits: "Room Full of Roses" (1974), "I Overlooked an Orchid" (1974), "City Lights" (1974), "Window Up Above" (1975), "Don't the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time" (1976), "Bring It on Home to Me" (1976, "She's Pulling Me Back Again" (1977), "True Love Ways" (1980), "Stand by Me" (1980), "That's All That Matters" (1980), "A Headache Tomorrow (or a Heartache Tonight)" (1981), "You Don't Know Me" (1981), "Lonely Nights" (1981), "Put Your Dreams Away" (1982), "Talk to Me" (1982), "Fool for Your Love" (1983), and the duet with Charly McClain "Paradise Tonight" (1983).
As famous as his music was, Gilley's, with its famous mechanical bull, inspired the John Travolta-Debra Winger blockbuster "Urban Cowboy," which in turn inspired a national obsession with cowboy chic that became an indelible part of 1980s popular culture.
"I thank John Travolta every night before bed for keeping my career alive," Gilley admitted in 2002. The club was long gone by then — shut down in 1989 over management disagreements, and then burned to the ground.
Gilley is survived by third wife Cindy, and his four children from previous marriages.
Various other country legends took time out to remember Gilley on social media, including the Oak Ridge Boys, whose official Twitter account noted, "Just heard that MIKEY GILLEY has just passed away … wow … another singing friend has gone home … Bye Mickey … until the day."