https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXiES01pnUk

Mickey Gilley sings “True Love Ways” live/Photo from YouTube via Screengrab

New Sound for Mickey

1980 was a new decade for Mickey Gilley’s career as a country artist. After achieving national fame with seven No. 1 records and imitating the style of his cousin, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gilley teamed up with a new producer. That producer was Jim Ed Norman. Norman’s first hit as a producer came from Jennifer Warnes’ single, “Right Time Of The Night.” Norman was also the one responsible revitalizing Anne Murray’s career. He also grabbed the chance to pump up the new life in Mickey Gilley’s recordings.

Jim Ed Norman encouraged Gilley to spend more time in the studio. It was to make Mickey explore his potential as a balladeer and Gilley showed that new sound in “True Love Ways.”

Unlucky Buddy

“True Love Ways” was written by Buddy Holly who specifically wrote it for his wife, Maria. She attended one of Mickey Gilley’s concerts and met him backstage. She told him that she considered the song the best version of it. The song was very special to her, not only because it was made for her but because it was the song that was released when Buddy was killed in a plane crash in 1959. Unfortunately, Buddy Holly’s version of the song never made it into the charts.

During the release of Mickey’s version, a DJ from Dallas had an interest for the similarities between both versions.  With the help of advanced technology, that disc jockey made another version where both artists were featured. The good thing is that Mickey Gilley’s cover was in the same tempo and the same keys as Holly’s version. It made it easy to be tweak and create a suitable duet for “True Love Ways.” However, Mickey still felt it was eerie to be singing with Buddy Holly in “True Love Ways.”

Even though his hits like “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be The Day” were embraced by country radio as golden oldies, Buddy Holly’s name never appeared in Billboard’s Country charts.

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