For the first time in over 20 years, the original ‘urban cowboy’, Mickey Gilley, will be in concert in Canada in March of 2015.
He performs March 9th at the Memorial Centre with showtime at 7 p.m.
The legendary singer has had seventeen number one singles in his long career including Room Full of Roses, City Lights, Fool for Love, Don’t the Girls Get Prettier at Closing Time and his remake of the soul standard Stand By Me.
It was Stand By Me from the blockbuster film Urban Cowboy in 1980 that catapulted Gilley from country to pop crossover superstar, taking him out of the shadow of his famous cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart.
As he shares with audiences his career in music and the stories behind the hit songs, it was the 70s that brought him most of his signature songs, awards and accolades.
He is the recipient of six Academy of Country Music Awards, from his first in 1974 – Top New Male Vocalist to Entertainer of the Year in 1976.
Gilley is also famous for his namesake nightclub with the legendary mechanical bull and was one of the first artists to open a theatre in Branson, Missouri.
On March 9th 1936, he was born in Natchez Mississippi.
Raised in Ferriday, Louisiana along with his two famous cousins, Lewis and Swaggart, it was there where his love and appreciation of music grew. He absorbed the haunting sounds of Louisiana rhythm and blues by sneaking up to the windows of the clubs at night.
Gilley learned to play piano at an early age but did not achieve the success of his cousin Jerry Lee until later.
Moving to Houston in the early 1950s to work construction, Gilley did not start playing until 1957 when he recorded his first record Ooh we Baby.
The song would later by used in a commercial for Yoplait yogurt. In 1959, he had his first charted record, Is it Wrong for Loving You? in which Kenny Rogers played the bass.
He continued playing in cities throughout the south but eventually settled into Pasadena where he began performing at the Nesadel Club. There he developed into one of the city’s most popular acts while playing there for more than 10 years. While at the Nesadel Galley, had his second charted record, Lonely Wine.
In 1971, along with business partner, Sherwood Cryer, he opened the world famous Gilley’s night club in Pasadena, Texas.
The club would grow and one day enter into the Guinness Record Book as the World’s largest honky-tonk. It was here that Gilley started experiencing his first success when he released Room Full of Roses. By the mid-seventies his songs were hitting the country charts with regularity.
As the eighties neared, Gilley was growing bigger with every day.
Country music’s biggest stars used the club as a launching pad. A television show was developed which only added to the phenomenon. But it was when Esquire Magazine caught wind of the excitement and featured an article called ‘The Ballad of the Urban Cowboy’ that caused Gilley to develop into an Urban Cowboy craze.
With the club rising in popularity so to did Gilley. To name a few of his many hits, City Lights, I Overlooked and Orchid and Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time all reached number one on the Billboard Country Charts.
His success along with the attention of the Esquire article led Paramount Pictures to film a movie in 1979. The movie, Urban Cowboy, would star John Travolta and Debra Winger and predominately featured Gilley.
The soundtrack featured many popular artists including a huge hit by Gilley, Stand By Me which went platinum and it made him a household name.
Also on the album was the Orange Blossom Special performed by his Urban Cowboy Band, the song would earn a Grammy. He was also awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Gilley’s shut its doors however in the late eighties and a fire would later destroy the building. But Gilley did not let this discourage him. He took his show on the road and would eventually settle into Branson – a unique community tucked away in the Ozarks. In the 90s many artists such as Roy Clark, Johnny Cash, Ray Stevens, Box Car Willie were flocking to the area.
In 1989, Gilley decided to build his own theatre and his fans loved it. Then in 1993 the unthinkable happened, an electrical short in a neon sign located outside of the building created a spark and the theatre burned to the ground.
Gilley rebuilt and his career was blooming.
Then 2009 brought another tragedy. He tripped while helping his friends move a sofa and was paralyzed for three months. He could no longer play the piano, walking was difficult, but his voice was better than ever and family and fans kept encouraging him to perform.
Today Gilley ‘walks’ out on the stage unassisted and proceeds to sing his hits and share his musical career.
The show is full of stories, music, and tender moments. His number one love is his music, but he continues to give back to the community he lives in.
He recently received the Pioneer Award presented to him by the Branson Area Chamber of Commerce, he does two shows a year where the admittance is dog food and he gives the food to the local shelters. He participates in local benefits, veteran shows, and promotes Branson all over the United States.
For tickets, call the Black Knight Ticket Centre at 403-755-6626, 1-800-661-8793 or visit http://www.bkticketcentre.ca.