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Country Music Icon Mickey Gilley Dies at 86

Country singer and actor Mickey Gilley, known for launching the Urban Cowboy movement in Country music died Saturday in Branson, Missouri. He was 86 years old.

Gilley had recently come off the road playing ten shows in April. His social media accounts said he died peacefully with his family and close friends by his side.

Gilley was a native of Natchez, Mississippi and was known for decade of his signature, haunting combination of Louisiana rhythm and blues and country-pop cross-over melodies.

In 1971 he would open his honky-tonk club Gilley’s in Pasadena Texas. The place became world famous and sparked a chain of his signature nightclubs.

In 1980, Gilley splashed into pop culture when he appeared in the smash hit movie Urban Cowboy alongside John Travolta, Debra Winger and Johnny Lee. Gilley’s Nightclub served as the backdrop for the film, which helped launch his acting career and put his music career on a whole new level. “Urban Cowboy” became a phenomenon used to describe soft-core country music of the early 1980s that was epitomized by the likes of Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Johnny Lee, and Gilley himself. It led to record sales for country music in the early and mid 1980s.

Following the success of Urban Cowboy he went on to make television appearances in Murder She Wrote, The Fall Guy, Fantasy Island, and The Dukes of Hazzard.

Musically Gilley was known for the hits Stand By Me, Room Full of Roses, I Overlooked an Orchard, Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time, Fool for Your Love, Lonely Nights, and many more. He grew up with his two famous cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart. He landed 39 Top 10 hits and 17 number one songs in his career. He earned six Academy of Country Music Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was inducted in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011. He was one of seven artists to that was an Academy of Country Music’s Triple Crown Award Winner (New Artist (1975), Best Artist (1977), and Entertainer of the Year (1977)).

Gilley was preceded in death by his wife, Vivian. He is survived by his wife Cindy Loeb Gilley, his children Kathy, Michael, Gregory and Keith Ray, four grandchildren and nine great grandchildren and his cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart.

Photo Credit: Mickey Gilley Social Media

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