Mississippi Writers and Musicians
MISSISSIPPI MUSICIANS: Mickey Gilley


Mickey Gilley Mickey Gilley, Photo From http://www.allmusic.com/im/amg/portr/D027/P02761.jpg

Major Works

  • City Lights, Playboy (1975)
  • Overnight Sensation, Playboy (1976)
  • First Class, Playboy (1977)
  • Reissue, Epic(1987)
  • Encore, Epic (1980)
  • Urban Cowboy, Asylum (1980)
  • That’s All That Matters to Me, Epic (1980)
  • You Don’t Know Me, Epic(1981)
  • Greatest Hits Vol. 1, Epic, (1987)
  • Chasing Rainbows, Airborne, (1989)
  • Biggest Hits, Columbia
  • Christmas at Gilley’s, Columbia
  • Live at Gilley’s, Epic
  • Ten Years of Hits, Epic
  • Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, Playboy

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Mickey Gilley: A Biography
By Ben Pennell (SHS)

Mickey Gilley is a country music singer/musician. He was born in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1936 (although some sources disagree).  The other sources say Gilley was born in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1937.  Gilley was born the son of Irene and Arthur Gilley. His family moved, and he grew up in Ferriday, Louisiana, with his cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart.  Jerry Lee Lewis, of course,  made his profession in rock and roll,  while Mickey Gilley was more interested in country music.  Swaggart, who played the piano,  became a well-known evangelist.   All three boys, Gilley, Lewis, and Swaggart, were musically inclined and would sneak off to blues joints at night to learn more about music. Gilley’s mother, who made only $18 a week, realized their love for music and saved enough to buy them a piano when Gilley was ten. (Wenning).

During his teen years, Gilley became very good at playing the piano. He didn’t really depend on music for a career, so he married and moved to Houston, Texas. After he heard a song of cousin Jerry Lee’s, he decided to take up music as well. He managed to get some session work in recording studios near Houston playing the piano and began playing in local clubs. Eventually he became popular enough to play around the United States working through small labels before being signed a contract with Dot Records.  From his debut in 1974 of George Morgan’s "Room Full of Roses," until the mid- eighties, Gilley sang seventeen number one hits. (Vinopal). He continues to produce albums.  In all, he has fifteen albums. (see "Major Works"). Around the early seventies Gilley and Sherwood Cryer, an old friend of Gilley’s, opened up a club called Gilley’s in Pasadena, Texas, which seated 5,000. (Cox). It was called the world’s largest honky-tonk. Gilley regularly performed here. In 1980, the club was chosen for a setting in the movie Urban Cowboy. This movie made Gilley’s a popular attraction for tourists. (Wenning).    Gilley played the piano and steel guitar at the night club, which he partly owned,   called Gilley’s, in Pasadena, Texas, until it burned down in 1990.  Today he performs primarily in Branson, Missouri.

Mickey Gilley at his Branson restaurant.  Photo from his site. Gilley has a new biography, which aired on TNN called The Life and Times of Mickey Gilley. He has a theatre in Branson, Missouri, which seats 950 people that he plays in nine months out of the year. He also wants to open up a new real classy Gilley’s in Houston, Texas. In Branson, he does six shows a week, but he says concerts aren’t work and he will never retire. (Rogers). He owns two cafes called Gilley’s Texas Café. One is in Branson, Missouri, and one is in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At Gilley’s Texas Café, folks can eat barbeque ribs or steak or have the best in frozen drinks, along with appetizers like Texas Bullets and  heaping platters of barbeque with beans, potato salad and coleslaw or Texas fries.

In conclusion, Gilley now lives and performs in Branson, Missouri. There he has a theatre and cafe, and he plays six shows a week.  He plans to play and sing as long as he is healthy.

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Timeline

1936 --  Born in Natchez, Mississippi
1940's- Family moved to Ferriday, Louisiana
1946 -   Began playing the piano
1950’s  Began playing in clubs
1950’s- Married and moved to Houston, TexasMickey Gilley CD
1964 -   Released "Lonely Wine" single
1970 -  Opened up Gilley’s in Pasadena, Texas
1971 -  Traveled to Nashville, Tennessee
1974 - -Signed with Playboy Records; debut with "Room Full of Roses"
1975 - -Released number one hit "City Lights"
1980 -- Featured in Urban Cowboy
1989 -- Released Chasing Rainbows album
2003--Still performing in Branson, Missouri

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Related Websites

This excellent site provides photo and biographical information about Mickey Gilley.  Viewer needs to type in name of Gilley.

Mickey Gilley and other country stars make fishing video.

This website contains pictures and information on Mickey Gilley and his Texas Café.

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Bibliography

Cox, James L. "Profiles of Famous and Notable Mississippians." Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998. Yazoo City, MS: Computer Search and Research, 1997. 130.

Rogers, John. "Gilley trades mechanical bull for treadmill." Clarion Ledger. Jackson, MS: N/ATalk To Me by Mickey Gilley

Vinopal, David. "Volume 1 #1." All Music Guide. my.musicbivd.com: 1998. Online.

Wenning, Elizabeth. June 1992 (Volume 7)." Contemporary Musicians. Online.

1999 Mickey Gilley Interests. 1997. Online. Available at http://www.gilleys.com/

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Last updated in 1999
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