- 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
- Kickin’ It Down the Road (2017)
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). In all, he has sixteen albums. 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 nightclub, which he partly owned, called Gilley’s, in Pasadena, Texas, until it burned down in 1990.
Gilley has a biography, which aired on TNN called The Life and Times of Mickey Gilley. He had a theatre in Branson, Missouri, which seats 950 people where he played nine months out of the year. In Branson, he did six shows a week (Rogers). He owned 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.
Mickey Gilley passed away on May 7, 2022.
- 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, Texas
- 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
- 2002–Inducted into the Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame
- 2011 – appeared on American Pickers
- 2017 – Released the album Kickin’ It Down the Road
- 2022 – Gilley passed away at the age of 86 on May 7
- This website contains pictures and information on Mickey Gilley
- CMT’s web page on Mickey Gilley
- Mickey Gilley’s Facebook page
- Mickey Gilley, who helped inspire ‘Urban Cowboy’, dies at 86. NPR
- 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/A
- 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/