Country music star and inspiration behind ‘Urban Cowboy’ film dies aged 86

Mickey Gilley, the Country music star with a string of No1 songs to his name has passed away in Missouri, aged 86

Renowned Country music star, Mickey Gilley, passed away this Saturday, May 7, at the age of 86.  Jeff Wagner, the mayor of Pasadena in Texas announced via a Facebook post that the hitmaker had died in Branson, Missouri, where his Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre was located. No cause of death was revealed.

Sharing images of the star, Wagner wrote: ‘Pasadena has lost a true legend. Mickey Gilley passed away today, surrounded by his loved ones. It was my great honour to know this man for most of my life. Mickey was a true musical talent who charted 42 singles in the Top 40 Country Charts over a span of two decades’.

‘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′ continued the mayor.

Wagner added, ‘We were so honoured to have Mickey perform at our State of the City in February 2020. Our prayers for comfort and peace are with Mickey’s family, his loved ones and his fans’.

Mississippi native Gilley opened the famous honky tonk Gilley’s Club in 1970, a venue the size of a football stadium. It incorporated a large rodeo arena with a smaller live music club, and acquired the label of ‘the world’s largest honky tonk.’

His Pasadena venue was the inspiration for the critically acclaimed film ‘Urban Cowboy’ in 1980, which starred John Travolta and Debra Winger. The concept for this box office hit came after Esquire published an article based on a couple who spent time at the honky tonk. 

On May 1, Gilley had announced on Facebook the cancellation of his latest tour. ‘I’ve been seeking doctors to get me back on track. I hope to be re-energised, healthy, and back in full swing, to see you at our shows soon!’.

An incredible musical career saw Gilley rack up an astonishing 17 number one hits. His chart-toppìng debut came with ‘Is It Wrong For Loving You’. He hit the Top 10 on 39 occasions. Gilley has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was an inductee of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Although famous as a Country star, Gilley’s cousin is rock and roll legend, Jerry Lee Lewis.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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