What happened to Mickey Gilley? Tributes pour in as country star and 'Urban Cowboy' inspiration dies at 86

Country music icon Mickey Gilley passed away at the age of 86 (Image via Kirk West/Getty Images)
Country music icon Mickey Gilley passed away at the age of 86 (Image via Kirk West/Getty Images)
Barsha Roy

Country music star Mickey Gilley, who served as the inspiration behind the 1980 film Urban Cowboy, passed away at 86. The news of his demise was announced in an official statement by Mickey Gilley Associates:

"He passed peacefully with his family and close friends by his side."
Mickey Gilley passed away today. He was 86 years old. A great live performer, he was certainly most famous for owning Gilley's, the largest dance hall in the world, in Pasadena, Texas.

Gilley took his last breath on Saturday, May 7, in Branson, Missouri, where he ran his namesake Grand Shanghai Theatre.

The musician even performed last month but reportedly suffered from "failing health" over the past week. No immediate cause of his death was announced at the time of writing.

During tonight’s Opry show, we took a moment to recognize Mickey Gilley and his contributions to country music. You’ll be missed, Mickey.♥️

According to his representatives, Gilley is survived by his wife, Cindy Loeb Gilley. The family is also survived by his children, Kathy, Michael, Gregory, Keith Ray, four grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

Twitter mourns the loss of Mickey Gilley

Gilley's fans and fellow musicians mourned his loss on social media (Image via GAB Archive/Getty Images)
Gilley's fans and fellow musicians mourned his loss on social media (Image via GAB Archive/Getty Images)

Mickey Gilley was one of the most prominent country musicians of the late 1990s. He had 39 Top 10 country hits, 17 number one songs and 42 singles on the top 40 US country chart.

He was also the owner of Gilley’s, “the world’s largest honky tonk,” in Pasadena, Texas, and helmed the "Urban Cowboy" movement in 1980s, later inspiring a box office hit of the same name.

Following the news of his demise, several people took to Twitter to pay their heartfelt tributes to the singer and mourn his loss:

Our dear friend Mickey Gilley has passed. So much of Houston/Pasadena’s history, country music, Urban Cowboy, workin man’s blues & a wonderful time in my life encapsulated in that man.
Sad to hear that country music star and founder of the world’s biggest honkytonk Gilley’s, Mickey Gilley has passed away at age 86. Sending prayers to his family, friends and fans.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of country legend Mickey Gilley. He has passed away at the age of 86. Rest In Peace, Mickey. We will always love you. ❤️
So sad to hear of the passing of Country Music Legend Mickey Gilley. Our paths crossed a few times being in Branson; and Gene Watson & I did his TV show. Fortunate to hang out backstage w/Johnny Lee & Mickey Gilley. Great stories and great memories. May He Rest In Peace.
We lost one of the cousins today! Mickey Gilley from Ferriday, Louisiana! Name me cousins can play the piano like these three Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Lee Lewis! I think they’re all 86?
Our hearts are broken at the passing of our good Pallie Mickey Gilley. One of the kindest and most talented entertainers in the music business. Rest in peace sweet Mickey.
Just when I think my heart can’t take anymore loss, I get the news that my dear close friend Mickey Gilley has passed. He truly altered the course of country music. I was fortunate to have gotten to see one of his last concerts 3 weeks ago. Prayers for Cindy, family and his fans.
Country music and Pasadena lost a legend today with the passing of Mickey Gilley. Just last summer I was fortunate enough to go by his house and visit for a little bit.
RIP Mickey Gilley. Legend.

Remembered for iconic songs like Room Full of Roses, Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time, Chains of Love, She's Pulling Me Back Again, Honky Tonky Memories, and the remake of the Soul hit Stand by Me, Gilley won six Academy of Country Music Awards during his lifetime.

He also earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Texas Country Hall of Fame in 2011. Gilley was one of the few artists to receive the Academy of Country Music's Triple Crown Award.


As tributes continue to pour in online, Gilley will undoubtedly be missed by his family, friends, fans, followers, colleagues and fellow musicians.

However, his legacy and contribution to music will always be cherished and remembered by his contemporaries and future generations.

Edited by Srijan Sen


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