October 27

From No. 4 to No. 1, “Room Full Of Roses” Mickey Gilley


From No. 4 to No. 1, “Room Full Of Roses” Mickey Gilley 1

This 1974 hit of Mickey Gilley was written by Tim Spencer. “Room Full Of Roses” first appeared on the Billboard country charts on June 15, 1949. It was when George Morgan’s original recording began a run toward No.4. After twenty-five years, the song was a success, serving Mickey Gilley’s first national No. 1 single.

Not everybody knows but Mickey had his own Astro record label and in 1973, it cut four tracks simply to promote his endeavors in this area. In a single session, he recorded Harlan Howard’s “She Called Me Baby” specifically for a local jukebox operator who wanted a copy of the song. Gilley also cut Roger Miller’s 1961 Top Ten hit “When Two Worlds Collide,” George Hamilton IV’s 1963 smash “Abilene,” along with “Room Full Of Roses.”

Gilley’s intention was to issue “Room Full Of Roses” as the “B” side of “She Called Me Baby.” However, when disc jockeys in the Houston area got a copy of the single, they flipped it over and they turned the song “Room Full Of Roses” into a local mega-hit. Gilley shopped the record around Nashville, but every major label turned him down. Fortunately, a small independent company called Playboy Records that was based in Los Angeles, bought the master tape and gave birth to Gilley’s “B” side’s major career.

The single introduced him with a piano style reminiscent of his cousin the great Jerry Lee Lewis. Gilley thought about the how similar they sound like as he made the arpeggio down the piano and started singing it. He was convinced by others at the session that his imitation of Lewis was perfect for the tune. Gilley again played the piece in its entirety twice. The first take was the one that was released despite several mistakes. He momentarily got lost during the piano solo in the middle, and somehow managed to come out of it in sync with the studio band.  He muffed the lyrics at one point, switching the “I”s and “you”s around in the first verse. Even with all of the errors, the record had that particular sound that made it work, and it sailed to #1 in its tenth week on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart, June 29, 1974, marking Mickey’s first of seventeen chart-topping singles.


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