Mickey Gilley’s “Lonely Nights,” was co-written by Keith Stegall and Stuart Harris. It was released in September 1981. This song was the 13th No. 1 hit of Mickey Gilley which stayed there for a week.
The Scribe Behind the Song, Keith Stegall
From Wichita, Kansas, Keith Stegall debuted at the age of eight. He sang and played music from that point on all the way to adulthood. After he moved to the Music City, Nashville, he found work at April/Blackwood Publishing Company.
There, he mastered his craft and songwriting was a specialty for him. Stegall regularly contributed many of country music’s hit songs during that time.
Working behind the scene, he helped in producing Randy Travis’ first hit, “On The Other Hand” in 1986.
Lonely Nights by Mickey Gilley
“Lonely Nights” was written in 1981. It became the only one of Stegall’s compositions to reach the top of Billboard’s country singles chart. During his time at April/Blackwood Publishing, he had multiple duties with the company. Stegall handled everything from dubbing and delivering tape copies during the day to writing songs in the evening. Roger Murrah served as Keith’s mentor at April/Blackwood and Stegall wrote “Lonely Nights” on Murrah’s piano.
Stegall had a couple of verses started when Stuart Harris came in to do some paperwork around 8:00 in the evening. Keith said:
“Let me show you what I’ve got going on this thing.”
Thereafter, they went into Roger’s office, sat down at the piano in there and knocked out the rest of “Lonely Nights” in just a couple of hours. Tony Brown produced the demo for Stegall and pitched it to Mickey Gilley’s producer Jim Ed Norman, who cut it on Mickey in a matter of days.
Mickey Gilley thought “Lonely Nights” was a sensational song and he began singing it in his Las Vegas concerts at such venues as Harrah’s, the MGM Grand and Bally’s even before it was released. Audience reaction to the tune was tremendous and Mickey knew that when the record finally hit the streets, he’d have another big one on his hands. “Lonely Nights” sailed to No.1 on Billboard’s country singles chart in its twelfth week, on February 6, 1982, marking Mickey Gilley’s 13th of his seventeen career chart-toppers.