NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nashville and the Country Music industry is mourning the loss of Country music artist, ACM Entertainer of the Year and Texas Country Music Hall of Fame Member Mickey Gilley, who has been wowing fans with his haunting sound of Louisiana rhythm and blues since 1957.
The Mississippi native grew up with his two famous cousins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, surrounded by the influence of music. Gilley made his chart-topper debut with his song “Is It Wrong For Loving You,” in which Kenny Rogers played the guitar. After moving to Pasadena, Texas, in 1971, he opened his world-famous honky-tonk nightclub, Gilley’s.
He continued to show chart success with hits like “City Lights” and “Don’t The Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time” both of which reached number one on the Billboard Country Charts. In 1980, Gilley appeared in the film “Urban Cowboy” alongside John Travolta and Johnny Lee. He was a member of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Gilley recently has been on the Urban Cowboy Reunion Tour with Johnny Lee across the United States in 2018.
“My heart is broken at the loss of Mickey. I treasure all the times we got to work together and there were never enough. He and Johnny Lee brought a new dimension to country music with the urban Cowboy trend and brought new fans to the genre. Whether it was a boogie or a ballad, Mickey made it his own, no matter how many times it had been done before, and it would become my favorite version. He was loved and respected and he will be so greatly missed.”–Jeannie Seely
“What a career! Over 30 hits and Mickey was still performing just last month in Laughlin. I especially loved the records that he and Jim Ed Norman made. While working in Branson in 2018 and 2019, I got to hang with Mickey a couple of times and it was quite entertaining backstage before the show and during intermission. He was so much fun and so full of life and still owned the stage.”–Bobby Tomberlin
“Mickey Gilley and Conway Twitty announced my birth on the ACM awards and showed my grandmother, Dottie West the first video footage of me when I was born. Now, all three – him, Conway and my grandmother have left this earth and sing in heaven. Mom and uncle David played Gilley’s club in Texas so much when I was a kid. What an era. Sad to see him go.”–Tess Frizzell
“Far too much of this kind of news lately. So sorry to hear of another music icon gone. He was an incredible person and an amazing artist. RIP Mickey.”–JP Pennington–Exile
“Mickey Gilley, a true legend and star. Cousin to Jerry Lee Lewis,(who taught him to play piano ) and Jimmy Swaggart!. He was versed in gospel, the blues, country and pop and he wove it all into his own unique sound. His bar “Gilleys” basically started the Urban Cowboy movement. I miss the piano player/singers that were stars. I would like to see that come back. Thanks for the music Mickey.”–Kent Blazy
“I grew up on Mickey Gilley music! What a great loss. He was a true stylist! Seeing him live in concert as a kid, and the way he owned the stage…helped me realize that being an entertainer was often as important as the music itself. My deepest sympathies go out to his family. He will forever be a legend and rightfully so!“–Heidi Newfield
“When I learned of the passing of Gilley my heart just sank! What a trailblazer he was his entire career!! Being a fellow Texan of course, his music blared on my radio and record player and 8 track player!! And then, Urban Cowboy, Gilley’s in Pasadena, he is a member of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame – I am just getting started with all of his accolades. He used to sit and listen to me sing at the piano bar where I played for several years at the Sheraton Music City. He was an encourager to me and he was my friend. RIP Gilley.”–Linda Davis
“Mickey taught is that the girls get prettier at closing time. A true one-of-a-kind music legend. You will be missed greatly.”–Flat River Band
“I’m saddened to hear of the passing of Mickey Gilley. Few could hold a candle to his genuine honky tonk sound. When you hold these icons so high on a musical pedestal, we forget that they are mortal just like the rest of us. Prayers for all the fans and of course, his family. Gilley’s forever!.”–Zachariah Malachi
“The news of the passing of Mickey Gilley reminds us all that we have lost another icon of country music. Our hope would have been to have had the chance to interview Mickey so that we could hear his success story first hand and preserve it for generations to come.“–Candy O’ Terry and Jacy Dawn Valeras co-hosts of Country Music Success Stories