Country music icon Mickey Gilley, 86

Country singer and actor Mickey Gilley, known for launching the Urban Cowboy movement in Country music and hit songs including “Stand By Me,” “Room Full of Roses” and “Lonely Nights,” died Saturday in Branson, Missouri.

Gilley was 86 and had just come off of the road, his favorite place, having played ten shows in April. He passed peacefully with his family and close friends by his side.

Gilley, a native of Natchez, Mississippi, influenced generations of country singers for decades with his signature, haunting combination of Louisiana rhythm and blues and country-pop crossover melodies. He grew up with his two famous cousins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, surrounded by the influence of music and earned 39 Top 10 hits and 17 No. 1 songs throughout his career.

In 1971, Gilley opened his world-famous honky-tonk Gilley’s in Pasadena, Texas, which is no longer in operation but there are three other Gilley’s, in Las Vegas Nevada, Dallas Texas and Durant Oklahoma.

The club was a phenomenon back in the day and spawned a movie called the Urban Cowboy featuring John Travolta and Debra Winger.

Gilley, an owner of the club, had seventeen #1 hits in his career touring until his death.

Gilley’s club was almost immediately successful, and it quickly grew in popularity. The huge honky-tonk drew crowds of people all through the week soon after the opening. Every night it filled its 6,000-person capacity. People enjoyed its showers for truckers, a shooting gallery, pool tables, and punching bags. Of course, it has its legendary rodeo arena with mechanical bulls and a dance floor big enough for thousands.

The son of Arthur Fillmore Gilley and Irene (Lewis) Gilley, Gilley learned how to play piano from Lewis and dabbled in boogie-woogie and gospel music early in his career before finding his professional footing in the ’70s with “Room Full of Roses.” Hits “Chains of Love,” “Honky Tonk Memories,” “She’s Pulling Me Back Again,” and “Here Comes the Hurt Again” followed as his honky-tonk gave way to the more progressive countrypolitan.

In 1980, Gilley splashed into pop culture when he appeared in the hit movie “Urban Cowboy” alongside John Travolta, Debra Winger and Johnny Lee.

Gilley’s served as the backdrop for the film, which helped launch his acting career and put his music career on a whole new level. Gilley went on to star in popular television series including “Murder She Wrote,” “The Fall Guy,” “Fantasy Island” and “Dukes of Hazzard.”

Gilley was widely recognized for his work in music and movies, earning numerous accolades, including six Academy of Country Music Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011. He was one of only a handful of artists to receive the Academy of Country Music’s Triple Crown Awards.

Gilley was preceded in death by his wife, Vivian. He is survived by his wife Cindy Loeb Gilley, his children Kathy, Michael, Gregory and Keith Ray, four grandchildren and nine great grandchildren and his cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart.

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