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Mickey Gilley, one of the architects of the Urban Cowboy movement, dead at 86

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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Mickey Gilley, the piano-playing singer and honky tonk owner who helped spark the Urban Cowboy movement, died Saturday in Branson, Missouri, with family and friends by his side. He was 86.

The cousin of both Jerry Lee Lewis and televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, Gilley would go on to chart 39 top ten hits and 17 number ones, including “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time,” “True Love Ways,” and “Stand by Me.” 

He opened his famed night club, Gilley’s, in 1971 in Pasadena, Texas, which would become the centerpiece of 1980’s Urban Cowboy, starring John Travolta and Debra Winger. Gilley would also guest star in TV classics like “Dukes of Hazzard,” “Fantasy Island,” and “Murder She Wrote.”

Gilley had just come off the road, having played ten shows during the month of April. 

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