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Country Music Legend Mickey Gilley to perform at Country Tonite
By Michael Williams

Country music legend Mickey Gilley will be performing in Pigeon Forge Friday, August 24 at 8 p.m. at Country Tonite Theater. Gilley's roots in music began in his childhood when he used to play with his two famous cousins, Jimmy Swaggart, who grew up to become a famed TV evangelist, and the "Killer" Jerry Lee Lewis, who became one of the architects of rock and roll.

mickey gilleyGilley's show is an entertaining life story of himself and a trip down memory lane for his fans. Gilley shares with his audience many wonderful stories of his career and sings all of his 17 songs that became no. 1 hits on the music charts and 40 top ten hits that propelled him to international stardom.

Gilley is remembered for such classic hits as "Room Full of Roses," "The Girls get Prettier at Closing Time," and many others.

Three years ago Gilley suffered a debilitating injury that threatened his not only his career but his life as well. "I had played 36 holes of golf that morning and later in the afternoon I went to help a friend move a futon," Gilley said in a telephone interview. "I stepped off into a flower bed and fell and broke my c-4,5,6 and 7 vertebrae. When I woke up in the hospital, I was paralyzed."

Doctors told the star he would never walk again, but apparently they underestimated his resiliency.

"I am walking, again," Gilley said. "I still can't play the keyboard, but I can walk. My goal is to be able to play golf again by this October and I plan to play the keyboard within the next year."

The injury did nothing to slow the award-winning vocalist who continues to run his theater in Branson, Missouri and still continues to play concerts in cities across the nation. In addition, he continues to run his famous nightclub that bears his name and is currently working on a new TV show on the MAV TV network. Gilley popped up in a recent episode of "American Pickers" on the History Channel.

"Can you believe I have lived long enough to make the history channel?" said Gilley. "The show I am doing for MAV TV is "Down Memory Lane with Mickey Gilley. It will be on Dish TV the second week of September.

Along with his music, Gilley's show at Country Tonite will include his many memories of the rock and roll and country legends he has worked with over the years.

"I grew up living in Jerry Lee's shadow," Gilley said. "It wasn't until I recorded "Stand by Me" that I broke out of his shadow and was no longer a copy of him. When we were playing together as kids, Jerry Lee created the style of piano we played. Somebody said once that when Jerry Lee, Jimmy and me played they should have called us 'The good, the bad and the ugly' but that title was already taken. I still see Jerry Lee about every six months or so."

Gilley said that although he enjoyed the bio-pic of his cousin "Great Balls of Fire," Dennis Quaid didn't do the best performance of Jerry Lee.

"Dennis is a great actor, but that guy that played Jerry Lee in that Johnny Cash movie played him the best," Gilley said. Gilley has countless memories of many music legends. Another favorite story he enjoys sharing involves the late Conway Twitty.

"I did a show with him and Loretta Lynn once. Conway decided he would open, then I would follow, then Loretta would sing then he would close the show. He opened the show and got a standing ovation. As he walked off the stage he said to me 'I wouldn't give this next spot to a dry cleaner.' I said 'thanks a lot,' Conway was great. He left us way too soon."

Gilley has won numerous country music and Grammy awards. In addition, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame as well as the halls of fame in Texas and Colorado.

He is remembered for his work in the 1980s movie "Urban Cowboy" starring John Travolta. Gilley acted in other movies and television shows including "Fantasy Island."

Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased at Country Tonite located on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge or by calling 800-792-4308 or 865-453-2003.

"If they will let me do them I will sing all 17 of my number one hits," Gilley said. "It takes about two hours. I will make sure the fans get their money's worth."

Published August 17, 2012

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