Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

GILLEY, Mickey

(b 9 March '36, Natchez LA) Rockabilly, later honky-tonk singer with hits from '74. Piano- playing cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis, for many years in his shadow. Moved to Houston '55, worked in construction; played clubs evenings, recorded rock'n'roll for many small labels; formed own label Astra '64, joined 20th Century-Fox '65, Paula '66; had country hit 'Now I Can Live Again' '66 but had to wait for bigger breaks: on Playboy label '73: no. 1 country hits 'Room Full Of Roses' (pop no. 50), 'I Overlooked An Orchid', 'City Lights' '74, 'Window Up Above' '75, 'Don't The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time', 'Bring It On Home To Me' '76 (last made no. 101 on Billboard Bubbling Under chart, narrowly missing Hot 100). Hits led to ACM awards as Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Single of the Year '76. Hits continued; switched to Epic for more hits incl. 'Stand By Me' (no. 22 pop crossover) from soundtrack of film Urban Cowboy '80, made at thriving Gilley's Club in Houston, 'largest honky tonk in the world'; also 'Paradise Tonight' '83, duet hit with Charley McLain; 'That's All That Matters' made 101 pop again; 'True Love Ways' '80, 'You Don't Know Me' '81 made pop Hot 100. Continued with top ten country hits to '86, joined Airborne Records '87, label folded '89 and Gilley relocated to Branson MO, first country star to open a theatre there (Branson has since become a tourist attraction for country fans from all over the world). He appeared in movies and TV series incl. Murder She Wrote, Dukes Of Hazard, Fantasy Island; was heavily involved with Association for Retarded Citizens and other charities. Albums incl. Down The Line With Mickey Gilley '68 on Paula; Welcome To Gilley's '75 on Pye UK; Overnight Sensation '75 on Playboy; Mickey At Gilley's '78 on Checkmate; The Songs We Made Love To '79, That's All That Matters To Me '80, Put Your Dreams Away '82, Fool For Your Love '83, You've Really Got A Hold On Me '84, all on Epic. Ten Years of Hits was a two-disc compilation.