NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — Country star Mickey Gilly, whose eponymous Texas honky-tonk inspired the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy” and a nationwide wave of Western-themed nightspots, has died. He was 86 years old.
Gilly died Saturday in Branson, Missouri, where he helped run the Mickey Gilly Grand Shanghai Theater. He was performing recently like last month, but from last one week health was going bad.
According to a statement from Mickey Gilly Associates, “he passed away peacefully with his family and close friends.”
Gilly – a cousin of rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis – opened Gilly, “the world’s biggest honky tonk” in Pasadena, Texas, in the early 1970s. By the middle of the decade, he was a successful club owner and enjoyed his first commercial success with “Room Full of Roses”. They began to regularly turn to country hits, including “Window Up Above,” “She’s Pulling Me Back Again” and “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time.”
In all, he had 39 Top 10 country hits and 17 No. 1 songs. He received six Academy of Country Music Awards, and also worked as an actor, appearing in “Murder She Wrote,” “The Fall Guy,” “Fantasy Island” and “The Dukes of Hazard.”
“If I had one wish in life, I would wish for more time,” Gilly told the Associated Press in March 2001, celebrating his 65th birthday. Not that he would do anything differently, the singer said.
“I’m doing exactly what I want to do. I play golf, fly my plane, and perform at my theater in Branson, Missouri. “I like to do my shows for people.”
Meanwhile, the allure of giant nightspots, including its famous mechanical bull, led to the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy”, starring John Travolta and Debra Winger, and many called it Travolta’s 1977 disco smash, “Saturday Night Fever”. regarded as an inverted version of. The film, inspired by Gilly’s Club, was based on an Esquire article by Aaron Latham about the relationship between two regulars at the club.
Gilly told the Associated Press in 2002, “I thank John Travolta every night before I go to sleep for keeping my career alive. It’s impossible to describe how grateful I am for my involvement with ‘Urban Cowboys’.” That film had a huge impact on my career and still is.”
The soundtrack included hits such as Johnny Lee’s “Lookin’ for Love”, Boz Skaggs’ “Look What You’ve Done for Me” and Gilly’s “Stand by Me”. The film turned the Pasadena Club into an overnight tourist draw and popularized Pearl Snap shirts, longneck bears, steel guitars and mechanical bulls across the country.
But the club was closed in 1989 when Gillie and his business partner Sherwood Cryer got into a dispute over the move to the place. A fire destroyed it soon after.
An improved version of Old Gilly’s nightclub opened in 2003 in Dallas. In recent years, Gilly Branson moved.
He was married three times, most recently to Cindy Loeb Gilly. He had four children, three with his first wife, Geraldine Garrett, and one with his second, Vivian McDonald.
A Natchez, Mississippi, native, Gilly Poor Hua was learning boogie-woogie piano in Louisiana, Louisiana, with Lewis and fellow cousin Jimmy Swaggert, the future publicist. Like Lewis, he would sneak into the windows of Louisiana clubs to listen to rhythm and blues. He moved to Houston for production work but played the local club scene at night and recorded and toured for years before catching up in the ’70s.
Gili had suffered health problems in recent years. He had brain surgery in August 2008 after specialists were diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition in which there is an increase in fluid in the cranium. Gilly was suffering from short-term memory loss, and he credits the surgery with preventing the onset of dementia.
He had further surgery in 2009 after a step collapse, forcing him to cancel a scheduled performance at Branson. In 2018, he fractured his ankle and fractured his right shoulder in a vehicle accident.