Mickey Gilley was an up and coming singer in 1973. He owned a night club, Gilley’s Club when he recorded four cut versions for the Astro Records. These songs were “She Called Me Baby,” “Abilene,” and “When Two Worlds Collide.”
Gilley is also a cousin to rock and roll singer, Jerry Lee Lewis. Lewis taught and trained Gilley on how to play the piano. Gilley eventually adapted Lewis’s style of playing. Jerry also played a big part in Mickey’s rise to stardom through the songs that he wrote.
Mickey Gilley started his professional singing career after Jerry’s song hit the top of the charts. Mickey would eventually cut some of Jerry’s songs and made a version for himself. This marked a career of good music for Mickey Gilley.
Let’s take a look back at Mickey Gilley’s legacy through the hits he produced.
“A Room Full of Roses“
This song was originally composed by songwriter Tim Spencer and was first recorded in 1949 by singer George Morgan. It was released in 1949 and eventually peaked at number 4 on the Billboard country chart.
“A Room Full of Roses” has been featured in several albums of different country artists of that time including Jim Reeves. The song appeared in his 1960 album titled, “Intimate Jim Reeves.” The song was later on covered by Mickey Gilley in 1974 which led to his first major breakthrough.
Mickey recorded “A Room Full of Roses“ as the B-side for his cover of “She Called Me Baby.” He, however, thought of the output terrible as notable flaws were heard during the recording. Tom Roland even pointed out some of Mickey’s cut of the song mentioning the time when Mickey got lost during the piano interlude but eventually was able to pull it together and came out in sync with the studio band.
Surprisingly, the song made more noise and eventually was produced by the newly founded “Playboy Records.” Following its release in April 1974, the song peaked at number one on the Billboard Magazine Hot Country Singles Chart. That marked Mickey’s first number one among the 17 hits he’d produced in his career.
“Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time”
“Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time“ was the lead single in Gilley’s 1976 album, Gilley’s Smokin. The song became Mickey Gilley’s fifth No. 1 on Billboard and stayed atop for 12 weeks.
Gilley’s humorously narrates what happens when one goes drinking like a fish. His observation about how people’s attractiveness increases as the night deepens was soon dubbed as the “closing time effect.”
After his first recording in 1976, Mickey Gilley would also do a duet with a rising country singer, Clay Cooper in May 2009 for “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time.”
“Stand By Me“
The sensational song was written by the duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It was first sung and made famous by Ben E. King. King’s recording became number 1 on the R&B charts and was the Top 10 hit on the US charts twice. “Stand By Me” was also used in a movie of the same title which made the song peaked on the UK singles chart.
In 1980, Mickey Gilley released his version of “Stand By Me” and it gave him his eighth no. 1 song. The cover was also used in the soundtrack of the 1980 movie titled, “Urban Cowboy” featuring John Travolta and Debra Winger. The scene was set at “Gilley’s Club” in Texas, which Gilley, himself, opened in the ’70s.
Gilley’s success in his version also crossed charts. His 1980 “Stand by Me” peaked at no. 22 in the US Hot 100 and was at no.3 in Canada. The song then became one of his signature songs.
On account of Mickey Gilley’s top-charting successes, he was the 2nd country artist with the most no. 1 single in 1980.