American country singer Mickey Gilley passed away on May 7 in Branson, Missouri, as per his publicist Zach Farnum. At the time of his death, he was 86.
According to Farnum, the Natchez, Mississippi native "passed peacefully" surrounded by family and close friends. He had recently returned home following a 10-show tour in April, according to the statement. The cause of Gilley's death has not yet been revealed.
As for his personal life, he is survived by his wife Cindy Loeb Gilley and four children, along with four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Gilley has 17 number one country singles, beginning in 1974 with Room Full of Roses. He also had big crossover success in 1980 with a country-flavored song of Ben E. King's Stand By Me, which charted at number one on Billboard Hot Country and number three on Adult Contemporary.
All about Mickey Gilley's children and family
Mickey Gilley shared four children with his two wives before eventually tying the knot with Cindy Loeb.
Gilley married Geraldine Garrett when he was 17 years old in 1953 and had three children namely, Keith Ray, Michael, and Kathy, with his first wife. However, the couple split up in 1961 due irreconcilable differences. Unfortunately, Garrett died on March 6, 2010.
A year after splitting up with Garrett, Mickey Gilley married Vivian McDonald and the couple had a son named Gregory. Vivian had an important part in her husband's career as his manager for a while. She also operated their honky-tonk club in Pasadena, Texas.
Vivian was placed in a care facility in 2018 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The duo was married for more than 55 years before she passed away on December 13, 2019.
Thereafter, Mickey Gilley married Cindy in 2020. The two were reportedly friends for 35 years before deciding to spend their lives together. They don't have any children together.
As for his career, the film Urban Cowboy, starring John Travolta, resurrected Gilley's musical career. The film helped to popularize country-western culture in urban settings, including mechanical bull riding which was the film's main plot.
Gilley was one of the first famous country artists to open his theater in Branson, Missouri, in 1989, which helped transform the Ozark town into a major entertainment tourism destination.
Gilley had been suffering from health issues in past years. In August 2008, he underwent brain surgery after physicians diagnosed him with hydrocephalus, a disorder characterized by an increase in fluid in the head. He experienced short-term memory loss as well.
He had some additional surgeries in 2009 after falling down a stairway, which forced him to cancel commitments in Branson. He sustained a fractured foot and a damaged shoulder in a car accident in 2018.