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Singer Mickey Gilley Dies May 7, 2022

Published by: Carolyn Brooks Fleming on May 8, 2022.

Country music singer and entrepreneur Mickey Gilley died on May 7, 2022, at the age of 86.

He had 17 No. 1 country hits, including “Room Full of Roses” and “Lonely Nights.”

Gilley helped expand the love of country music and style into urban areas. The 1978 John Travolta movie “Urban Cowboy” introduced mechanical bull riding to new audiences. The movie was filmed on location at Gilley’s club in Pasadena, Texas.

Gilley later said, “John Travolta came off of 'Saturday Night Fever' with the Bee Gees music and dancing and fancy steps, and all of a sudden he’s down here doing a thing in Houston, Pasadena, which was related to nothing but country music, doing all these country dances, and I think that’s what made it really happen for him, you know. I never dreamed he’d be able to pull it off like he did.”

Due to his new-found fame, Gilley’s club became more popular and Gilley appeared on several top television series of the era, including “Murder, She Wrote” and “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

In 1989, Gilley opened his eponymous theater in the up-and-coming entertainment district in Branson, Missouri, helping it to become a major tourist destination.

Fame runs in Gilley’s family—both Jerry Lee Lewis, best known for his hit “Great Balls of Fire,” and televangelist Jimmy Swaggart are his cousins. Gilley once said, “I never dreamed that we’d all three have success in the music industry, and all three go in different directions.”

Gilley earned many accolades, including six Academy of Country Music Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Mickey Gilley died in Branson, surrounded by family and friends. He is survived by his wife and four children.

Learn more about him in his own words.

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SOURCES

Haring, Bruce. “Mickey Gilley Dies: Proprietor Of World’s Biggest Honky Tonk Popularized in ‘Urban Cowboy’ Was 86.” Deadline, May 7, 2022, https://deadline.com/2022/05/mickey-gilley-dead-country-music-star-ran-gilleys-honky-tonk-obituary-1235018639/.

Rose, Andy and Elassar, Alaa. “Country singer Mickey Gilley dies at age 86.” CNN, May 7, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/07/entertainment/mickey-gilley-dies-country/index.html.

Ward, Dave. “Dave Ward interviews country legend Mickey Gilley.” ABC13, June 10, 2020, https://abc13.com/entertainment/dave-ward-interviews-country-legend-mickey-gilley/6233984/.

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