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Country music icon Mickey Gilley dies at age 86


Country music icon Mickey Gilley passed away Saturday in Branson, Missouri, due to complications after a recent hospitalization. He was 86 years old.  Gilley’s publicist Zach Farnum said in a statement that he “passed peacefully” surrounded by family and close friends. He had recently returned home from the road after playing 10 shows in April, according to the statement.

Gilley pursued a career in music following in the footsteps of his older cousin, Jerry Lee Lewis.  He released his first single in New Orleans under producer Huey Meaux, and in 1970 he opened Gilley’s, his first nightclub in Pasadena, Texas. In 1980, Gilley’s was featured in the popular movie Urban Cowboy starring John Travolta and Debra Winger, and went on to star in numerous popular television series including ‘Murder She Wrote,’ ‘The Fall Guy,’ ‘Fantasy Island’ and ‘Dukes of Hazzard.’

In 1989, Gilley was one of the first major country singers to open his own theater in Branson, Missouri. He scored 17 #1 hits throughout the course of his career, including “Room Full Of Roses,” “City Lights,” “Window Up Above,” “Don’t The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time,” “Bring It On Home To Me,” “Stand By Me,” “Lonely Nights” and more.  He won six ACM Awards, earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

Among his survivors are Jerry Lee Lewis, Gilley’s cousin; his wife Cindy Loeb Gilley, children Kathy, Michael, Gregory and Keith Ray, as well as four grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

Editorial credit:  Tami Freed /

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