There’s been so much news the past week that it's almost overwhelming, but I can’t let the passing of country star Mickey Gilley go unmentioned. Gilley died last weekend in Pasadena, Texas, at 86 of undisclosed causes.
Gilley was best known for his ‘80s hits that were associated with the “Urban Cowboy” craze kicked off by the John Travolta movie (the country flipside of the disco boom Travolta sparked with “Saturday Night Fever.”) Gilley not enjoyed huge chart success with such pop-country hits as “Stand By Me” and “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time,” he also became famous for his Gilley’s club, the “world’s biggest honky-tonk,” with its mechanical bull, as seen in the film. Even after the hits dried up, his name was still associated with the Mickey Gilley Golf Classic and live venues. He had a theater in Branson, and there was a Gilley’s to the west of us in Fort Worth (now Billy Bob’s Texas) and still a Gilley’s to the east in Dallas (not his, but named after him.)
Those who know only his '80s “Urban Cowboy” years might be surprised to learn that he’d been plugging away for quite a while before that. His first record, “Ooh We Baby,” came in 1957 (the label was "Minor Records"); his first charted song was “Is It Wrong” in 1960 (the uncredited bass player was Kenny Rogers); and his first album was "Lonely Wine" in 1964. He overcame a number of setbacks, including two fires that destroyed his venues and an accident that paralyzed him for three months and ended his ability to play piano. But he kept performing as a singer and storyteller.
Mickey Gilley was a member of a famous trio of singer/pianist cousins from Ferriday, Louisiana, that included “The Killer” Jerry Lee Lewis in the rock field, and Jimmy Swaggart in the gospel arena. Both cousins are still alive (yes, even Jerry Lee.)
A few years ago, Mickey Gilley visited the “Huckabee” show along with fellow “Urban Cowboy” star Johnny Lee (“Looking for Love in All The Wrong Places.”) You can relive that moment here.
Rest in peace, Mickey.
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Just a quick note on this year’s inductees into the “Rock and Roll” Hall of Fame. In the performer category, they are Pat Benetar and Neil Geraldo, Eurythmics (both deserved), Duran Duran (not my choice, but okay), Carly Simon, Lionel Richie (wait, wasn’t this supposed to be rock?), Dolly Parton (who unsuccessfully asked that her name be removed because she’s never even made a rock record) and Eminem (okay, this is definitely no longer a rock music Hall of Fame. Some of us would argue that that’s not even music.)
The Hall’s CEO defended Eminem’s induction by claiming he “emits the same feeling” as heavy metal does. If that means he induces headaches, I’ll grant that, but it’s not rock. Actual metal pioneers Judas Priest finally got a “Musical Excellence Award,” but weren’t inducted as performers.
As has become a yearly tradition, here’s my very incomplete list of artists who have NOT been inducted into the alleged “Rock and Roll” Hall of Fame so they can make room for people like Eminem, Jay-Z, Dolly Parton, etc.:
Jethro Tull; The Monkees; Mott the Hoople; The Jam; Ted Nugent; Dick Dale; Herman’s Hermits; Blue Oyster Cult; The Guess Who; King Crimson; Thin Lizzy; Robin Trower; Emerson Lake & Palmer; Iron Maiden; Devo; Paul Revere and the Raiders; Styx; Tommy James and the Shondells; Boston; Steppenwolf; America; The Grass Roots; Jan and Dean; Motorhead; Neil Sedaka; Badfinger; the MC5; The New York Dolls; Grand Funk Railroad; Slade; Joe Walsh; Three Dog Night; Warren Zevon; Link Wray; Meat Loaf; Vanilla Fudge; Blood, Sweat and Tears; Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers; J. Geils Band; Bad Company; neither Johnny nor Edgar Winter; Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels; Peter Frampton, Johnny Burnette; Ten Years After; Johnny Rivers; The B-52s and many more.