Country star, ‘Urban Cowboy’ inspiration, was 86

NEW YORK – Country star Mickey Gilley, whose namesake Texas honky-tonk inspired the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy” and a nationwide wave of Western-themed nightspots, has died. He was 86.

Gilley died Saturday in Branson, Missouri, where he helped run the Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre. He had been performing as recently as last month, but was in failing health over the past week.

“He passed peacefully with his family and close friends by his side,” according to a statement from Mickey Gilley Enterprises.

Gilley — cousin of rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis — opened Gilley’s, “the world’s largest honky tonk,” in Pasadena, Texas, in the early 1970s. By mid-decade, he was a successful club owner and had enjoyed his first commercial success with “Room Full of Roses.” He began turning out country hits regularly, including “Window Up Above,” “She Ella ‘s Pulling Me Back Again” and the honky-tonk anthem “Do n’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time.”

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Mickey Gilley, whose namesake Texas honky-tonk inspired the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy,” and a nationwide wave of Western-themed nightspots, died May 7 at age 86.

Overall, he had 39 Top 10 country hits and 17 No. 1 songs. He has received six Academy of Country Music Awards, and also worked on occasion as an actor, with appearances on “Murder She Wrote,” “The Fall Guy,” “Fantasy Island” and “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

“If I had one wish in life, I would wish for more time,” Gilley told The Associated Press in March 2001 as he celebrated his 65th birthday. Not that he’d do anything differently, the singer said.

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