Mickey Gilley is an American country music singer and pianist who rose to fame in the 1970s and 1980s with chart-topping hits such as ‘Room Full of Roses’and ‘Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time.’
Gilley’s music has been described as a unique blend of country, rock, and pop, and his signature sound has helped shape the landscape of country music for decades.
Born in Natchez, Mississippi in 1936, Gilley grew up in a family of musicians and learned to play the piano at an early age. He began performing in local clubs and bars as a teenager, and eventually moved to Houston, Texas to pursue his career in music.
Gilley’s rise to fame was fueled by his success as the owner of Gilley’s Club, a honky-tonk bar in Pasadena, Texas that became famous for its mechanical bull and live music.
Today, Mickey Gilley is recognized as one of the most influential country music artists of his generation, and his contributions to the genre continue to be celebrated by fans and critics alike.
- Mickey Gilley was born in Mississippi in 1936 and moved to Houston, Texas to pursue his music career, where he founded the famous Gilley’s Club.
- He rose to fame in the 1970s and 1980s with his unique blend of country, rock, and pop, and had 17 number one hits, sold over 20 million records worldwide, and won several awards, including Entertainer of the Year from the Country Music Association in 1976.
- Despite facing personal challenges, such as a tragic accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down in 2009 and bankruptcy in the 1990s, he continued to perform and inspire others with his resilience and determination.
- Mickey Gilley’s legacy in country music is undeniable, and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2019, and has received numerous awards and honors, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Music Awards.
Early Life and Musical Beginnings
The early life and musical beginnings of Mickey Gilley, an American country music singer and pianist, are characterized by a strong passion for music and a commitment to honing his craft. Born in Natchez, Mississippi in 1936, Gilley grew up in a family where music was an integral part of their daily lives. His father, uncle, and cousins were all musicians, and Gilley was exposed to various genres of music from an early age.
Gilley started playing the piano when he was just five years old and quickly developed a talent for the instrument. He spent countless hours practicing and performing with his family members, honing his skills and developing his own unique style.
As he grew older, Gilley started performing in local bars and clubs, and his reputation as a talented musician began to grow. By the time he was a teenager, Gilley had formed his own band and was playing gigs across Mississippi and Louisiana, paving the way for his future success in the country music industry.
Moving to Houston and Starting Gilley’s Club
After relocating to Houston, Mickey Gilley established a popular nightclub called Gilley’s, which became renowned for its mechanical bull and live music performances. The club first opened its doors in 1971, and its success quickly grew due to Gilley’s reputation as a talented musician.
The club became a hotspot for country music fans and was a major contributor to the urban cowboy culture that emerged in the 1980s. Gilley’s was also known for its mechanical bull, which became a popular attraction at the club. The bull was inspired by the 1980 movie ‘Urban Cowboy,’which featured a similar bull-riding scene.
The club’s popularity continued to grow, with many famous musicians performing at Gilley’s, including Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. Gilley’s became a symbol of country music culture and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the genre.
Rise to Fame in the 1970s and 1980s
Establishing a popular nightclub in Houston, Gilley rose to fame in the 1970s and 1980s due to its reputation as a hotspot for country music fans and a major contributor to the urban cowboy culture. Gilley’s Club became the go-to destination for anyone looking for a night of dancing and socializing in Houston.
Here are four reasons why Gilley’s Club became a sensation during its peak in the 70s and 80s:
The club’s mechanical bull, which became a popular attraction and featured in the 1980 movie ‘Urban Cowboy.’
The live music performances, which included famous country artists such as Johnny Lee and Mickey Gilley himself.
The unique atmosphere, as the club was decorated with cowboy-themed decor and even had a rodeo arena outside.
The club’s popularity with celebrities such as John Travolta, who frequented the club while filming ‘Urban Cowboy.’
With its combination of live music, unique atmosphere, and celebrity appeal, Gilley’s Club became an iconic symbol of Texan culture and a defining element of the country music scene in the 1970s and 1980s. It remains a legendary establishment in the history of Houston nightlife and country music.
Chart-Topping Hits and Signature Songs
One notable aspect of Gilley’s success was his chart-topping hits and signature songs, which helped solidify his place in the country music industry.
One of his most famous songs is ‘Room Full of Roses,’which reached the top of the country charts in 1974 and was his first number one hit.
Other popular songs include ‘Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time,”I Overlooked an Orchid,’and ‘The Power of Positive Drinkin’.’
Gilley’s signature song, however, is undoubtedly ‘Stand by Me,’which was originally recorded by Ben E. King in 1960.
Gilley’s version was released in 1980 and became a huge hit, reaching number one on the country charts and peaking at number 22 on the pop charts.
The song has since become a country classic and has been covered by many other artists.
Gilley’s chart-topping hits and signature songs not only brought him fame and success in the music industry but also secured his place in country music history.
Acting Debut in Urban Cowboy
Gilley made his acting debut in the 1980 film Urban Cowboy, which not only showcased his musical talents but also helped popularize the country western lifestyle. The film, which starred John Travolta and Debra Winger, was a romantic drama set in a Houston honky-tonk bar.
Gilley played himself and performed several of his hit songs, including ‘Stand by Me’and ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia.’ Gilley’s performance in Urban Cowboy helped him gain a wider audience and solidify his image as a country western superstar.
The film’s success also led to the opening of Gilley’s honky-tonk bar in Pasadena, Texas, which became a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of the country western lifestyle. Despite his success as an actor, Gilley continued to focus on his music career, producing hit songs such as ‘Fool for Your Love’and ‘True Love Ways.’
Personal Challenges and Triumphs
Overcoming personal struggles and achieving triumphs were significant themes in the life and career of the renowned country western performer, Mickey Gilley. Despite his success in the music industry, Gilley faced several challenges throughout his life that shaped him into the person he is today.
One of his most significant personal challenges was a tragic accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down in 2009. While this could have been the end of his career, Gilley persevered and continued to perform, inspiring others with his resilience and determination.
In addition to his physical challenges, Gilley also faced financial struggles throughout his career. He filed for bankruptcy in the 1990s and was forced to sell his famous honky-tonk bar, Gilley’s Club. However, he bounced back from this setback and continued to tour and record music.
Despite the obstacles he faced, Gilley remained a beloved figure in the country music industry, known for his smooth vocals and energetic performances. His personal challenges and triumphs serve as a testament to his strength and perseverance, inspiring others to overcome their own obstacles and achieve their goals.
Legacy and Impact on Country Music
Moving on from Mickey Gilley’s personal challenges and triumphs, it is essential to delve into his legacy and impact on country music.
Gilley’s contribution to the genre cannot be overstated. He is one of the pioneers of the ‘Urban Cowboy’ movement that took the country music scene by storm in the 1980s. Gilley’s honky-tonk style and electrifying performances were instrumental in popularizing country music beyond its traditional boundaries.
Gilley’s impact on the country music industry can be seen in his numerous accolades and achievements. He has had 17 number one hits, charted over 40 singles, and sold over 20 million records worldwide. Gilley has also been inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, and the Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame.
His music has inspired countless artists, and his legacy continues to influence modern country music.
In conclusion, Mickey Gilley’s contribution to country music is immeasurable. He has left an indelible mark on the genre and continues to inspire generations of country music lovers.
Awards and Honors
Throughout his career, Mickey Gilley has been recognized and honored with numerous awards for his contributions to country music.
He has won several Country Music Association (CMA) awards, including the prestigious Entertainer of the Year award in 1976.
He has also won Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards for Top Male Vocalist and Song of the Year.
In addition, Gilley has been inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, the Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame, and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
Gilley’s success in the music industry has not gone unnoticed by his peers and fans.
He has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Music Awards.
He has also been recognized by the Country Music Association with the Pioneer Award for his groundbreaking contributions to the genre.
Gilley’s awards and honors reflect his impact on country music and his enduring legacy as a talented musician and entertainer.
Recent Performances and Resurgence
Following his impressive list of awards and honors, Mickey Gilley has continued to captivate audiences with his music. In recent years, the country music legend has experienced a resurgence in his career, with new opportunities to perform and connect with fans.
Gilley’s recent performances have showcased his enduring talent and energy. The artist has been invited to play at various music festivals, including the 2019 Texas Country Music Festival, where he shared the stage with other iconic country musicians. Additionally, he has headlined several concerts across the United States, drawing crowds of all ages who are eager to hear his classic hits.
To further illustrate Gilley’s resurgence and continued popularity, here are three examples of his recent performances:
In 2018, Gilley performed at the Grand Ole Opry, one of the most prestigious stages in country music. His lively performance of ‘Stand by Me’had the audience on their feet, singing along.
The same year, he also performed at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, where he played his well-known songs such as ‘Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time’and ‘Room Full of Roses’. The crowd cheered and danced throughout his entire set.
In 2019, Gilley headlined the Mickey Gilley & Johnny Lee Urban Cowboy Reunion Tour, which took him to various cities across the country. The tour was a success, with audiences packing venues to see the two country music icons perform together.
With his continued success and recent performances, it’s clear that Mickey Gilley’s music has stood the test of time, and he remains a beloved figure in the country music community.
Celebrating a Lifetime of Musical Achievement
In recognition of his lifelong contributions to country music, Mickey Gilley has been honored with numerous awards and accolades.
One of his most notable achievements was being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2019. This honor recognizes his impact on the genre as a pianist and singer, as well as his influence on the development of the ‘Texas Sound’of country music.
Gilley’s career has spanned over six decades, during which he has released numerous hit songs and albums, toured extensively, and even had his own theater in Branson, Missouri. His unique blend of country, rock, and blues has made him a beloved figure in the music industry.
At 85 years old, Gilley still performs and continues to inspire new generations of artists. His legacy in country music is undeniable and will continue to be celebrated for years to come.