Country Music Legend Mickey Gilley Dies at 86

Mickey Gilley, a country singer of hits such as Room Full of Roses,” “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time,” and the remake of “Stand by Me,” which was featured in the movie Urban Cowboy, has died. No cause of death was given. He was 86

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The Mayor of Pasadena, Texas, Jeff Wagner, broke the news on social media.

“Pasadena lost a true legend,” Mayor Wagner wrote. “Mickey Gilley passed away today, surrounded by his loved ones. It was my great honor to know this man most of my life. Blessed to have him at our State of the City 2/2020. Our prayers are with his family, loved ones & fans.”

In a Facebook post, the Mayor spoke of Gilley’s contribution to bolster Pasadena with his dance hall Gilley’s and the film Urban Cowboy.

“Mickey was a true musical talent who charted 42 singles in the Top 40 Country Charts over a span of two decades,” he wrote. “His talent and larger-than-life personality helped ignite a new interest in country music as he introduced the world to Pasadena through his dance hall and “Urban Cowboy” in 1980. 

Chief Josh Bruegger of the Pasadena Police Dept added, “Country music and Pasadena lost a legend today with the passing of Mickey Gilley. Just last summer I was fortunate enough to go by his house and visit for a little bit.”

Gilley was born in 1936. He was cousin to Jerry Lee Lewis (on his mother’s side), who grew up near him in Mississippi. Gilley’s career began in the ’50s when he released a few songs and later played clubs and bars. After gaining a following in Pasadena, Texas, Gilley had a minor hit “Now I Can Live Again.”

But it was the 1970s that saw hits like “Room Full of Roses,” “Chains of Love,” “Honky Tonk Memories,” “She’s Pulling Me Back Again” and “Here Comes the Hurt Again.” That’s when Gilley opened his first nightclub – Gilley’s Club – in Pasadena, which was featured, along with the mechanical bull, in the movie Urban Cowboy. The club became known as the “world’s biggest honky tonk.” 

As country music changed, so did Gilley. In the ’80s, he adopted a more country crossover sound with the remake of “Stand by Me.” The movie Urban Cowboy featured the song and allowed Gilley to see a resurgence in his career. Gilley followed with chart toppers, “True Love Ways,” “A Headache Tomorrow (Or a Heartache Tonight),” “You Don’t Know Me,” and “Lonely Nights.”

In 2018, Gilley and friend Troy Payne recorded Two Old Cats, featuring13 classic country duets.

Gilley’s accolades include receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, being inducted into the Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame in Ferriday, Louisiana, being awarded the Key to the City of Winchester, Virginia, and has won 6 ACM Awards, including Single of the Year, Song of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, Top Male Vocalist, and Album of the Year.

In 2009, Gilley suffered a tragic accident when a love seat he was helping move fell on top of him, crushing his vertebrae. He was paralyzed from the neck down and underwent physical therapy. He later returned to the stage and was able to walk again.

Gilley is survived by his wife, Cindy Gilley, and his 4 children, Keith Ray, Michael, Kathy, and Gregory.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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