Mickey Gilley



Biography

Born: March 9, 1936
City and Country of Origin: Natchez, Mississippi
Music Training:
Awards: 2002 inducted into the Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame; ACM 1976 Entertainer of the Year; Album of the Year; Single of the Year; Song of the Year; Top Male Vocalist; 1974 Top New Male Vocalist; 1976 Music City News - Most Promising Male Artist of the Year
Top Recordings: "Room Full of Roses," "I Overlooked An Orchid," "City Lights," "Window Up Above," "Bring It On Home to Me," "Don't the Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time," "She's Pulling Me Back Again," "Stand By Me," "That's All That Matters," "True Love Ways," "You Don't Know Me," "A Headache Tomorrow (Or a Heartache Tonight)," "Lonely Nights," "Put Your Dreams Away," "Fool For Your Love," "Paradise Tonight," "Talk to Me"
Mickey Gilley Biography: Mickey Leroy Gilley is an American Country Music Singer and Musician. Although he started out singing straight-up Country material in the 1970s, he moved towards a more Pop-friendly sound in the 1980s, bringing him further success on not just the Country charts, but the Pop charts as well. Among his biggest hits is "Room Full of Roses" and the remake of the Soul Music hit "Stand By Me". He is also the cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl McVoy and Jimmy Swaggart.

By the end of the 70s, Mickey Gilley was already a chart-topping Country Music singer and musican, having a string of number 1s and Top Tens. However, when the movie Urban Cowboy came out in 1980, Gilley was put on the map in Country Music, moving towards a more Pop direction, which proved successful for Gilley that same year.

He was born in Natchez, Mississippi in 1936. For many years, Gilley lived in the shadow of his cousin, Jerry Lee Lewis, the legendary Rock and Roll singer and musican in the 1950s. The two as children grew up close by each other, being Gilley lived just across the Mississippi River from Louisiana where Lewis grew up. Gilley, Lewis, and another cousin Jimmy Swaggart played piano together as children. This is when Gilley first learned to play the piano. Together, they all sang boogie-woogie and Gospel music, however, Gilley didn't consider himself a professional singer until Jerry Lee hit the top of the charts in the 1950s. Mickey cut a few singles on his own in late 1950s and played sessions in New Orleans with producer Huey Meaux. In 1958, he had a record "Call Me Shorty" on the Dot label and it sold well. In the 1960s, he played at many clubs and bars, getting a following at the Nesadel Club in Houston, Texas. In 1967, Paula Records released Gilley's first album called Down the Line and the following, he had a minor hit from the album called "Now I Can Live Again."

In 1970, Gilley opened up his first club in Pasadena, Texas called Gilley's Club, replacing the club that was there called Sherry's Club. The club later became known as the "world's biggest honky tonk." He owned "Gilley's Club" with with former owner of Sherry's Club named Sherwood Cryer, who asked Gilley to re-open the bar with him. The club portion of Gilley's burned in 1990, while the rodeo arena portion was razed in 2005 to make way for a school.
In 1974, Gilley recorded a song that he recorded for fun entitiled "Room Full of Roses", which was a one-time hit for George Morgan. The song was released by Astro Records that year, and then Playboy Records got a hold of the single, and got national distribution for "Room Full of Roses". From then on, Gilley was signed to Playboy Records. "Room Full of Roses" became the song that put Gilley on national radar, hitting the very top of the Country charts that year, as well as making it to #50 on the Pop Music charts. "Room Full of Roses" today remains as one of his signature songs.
He had a string of Honky Tonk and Countrypolitan Top Tens and #1s throughout the 70s. Some of these hits were cover versions of songs, including the Bill Anderson song "City Lights," George Jones' "Window Up Above," and Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home". He remained a popular Country act for the rest of the 70s. Other hits in the 70s include "Chains of Love" (1977), "Honky Tonk Memories" (1977), "She's Pulling Me Back Again" (1978), and "Here Comes the Hurt Again" (1978). However, a new breed of Country-crossover artists that brought Country success with them to the Pop charts. These singers include Glen Campbell, Crystal Gayle, Olivia Newton-John, and Kenny Rogers. In order to compete with these new breed of Country singers, Gilley had to sound like them and have that kind of Country-Pop success that these singers were having.
In 1978, Gilley signed on with Epic Records, when Playboy Records was bought by Epic. By 1979, his success was fading slightly. Songs like "The Power of Positive Drinkin'", "Just Long Enough to Say Goodbye", and "My Silver Lining" just made the Top Ten.
By 1980, Gilley developed a new sound to bring him Country crossover success. His career was given a second go-around when one of his recordings was featured on the box-office-selling movie Urban Cowboy. The song was the Country remake of the Soul Music standard "Stand By Me". As the movie was becoming successful, so was "Stand By Me". The song hit the top of the Country charts in 1980, the Top 5 of the Adult Contemporary charts, and the Pop Top 40. The song turned Gilley into a Pop-Country crossover success. However, the song was his only Adult Contemporary hit, but it did become one of his signature songs.
A string of six number one hits on the Country charts followed the success of Urban Cowboy. These included: "True Love Ways", "A Headache Tommorow (Or a Heartache Tonight)", "You Don't Know Me", and "Lonely Nights". He never had any other Pop hits though. In 1983, he had other hits, like "Fool For Your Love", "Paradise Tonight", and "Talk to Me" (not to be confused with the Stevie Nicks hit of the same name). In 1984, he had a hit, which just missed topping the Country charts called "You've Really Got a Hold On Me". However, also at this time, his chart success was fading rapidly.
Since the mid 80s Gilley has not been able to match his earlier successes.

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