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Mickey Gilley remembered by Texas Country Music Hall of Fame

2011 inductee prompted change in Hall of Fame bylaws
Mickey Gilley remembered by Texas Country Music Hall of Fame
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 9:59 PM CDT
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CARTHAGE, Texas (KLTV) - Country music fans are mourning the loss of the legendary Mickey Gilley, who died Saturday at the age of 86.

Gilley had ties to East Texas, like his 2011 induction into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage.

“I was sad and very shocked that we had lost him,” said Tommie Ritter-Smith, President of the TCMHOF.

Ritter-Smith said she first met Gilley by way of fellow country artist Johnny Lee.

“We met at Gilley’s nightclub a long time ago in Pasadena,” Ritter-Smith said. “l lived in the area and I went to Gilley’s just about every weekend.”

And years later, it would be Johnny Lee’s 2004 induction that would prompt Gilley to ask about his own chances of being inducted.

“He wanted to be in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and he told me that every time he saw me,” Ritter-Smith said.

Until Gilley’s 2011 induction, the Hall of Fame only inducted Texas-born artists. Despite Gilley being born in Mississippi, the museum board knew his significant contributions to the Texas country music scene could not be overlooked.

“Mickey Gilley was the start of the change of our bylaws,” Ritter-Smith said.

Gilley’s Texas honky-tonk was the setting of the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy.” The film, starring John Travolta, was considered a cultural phenomenon.

Mickey Gilley and John Travolta.
Mickey Gilley and John Travolta.(Blake Holland/KLTV)

“There was a whole change of attitude about country music during that time,” Ritter-Smith said

Among the items museum visitors can find at the TCMHOF are some hard-to-find Gilley’s memorabilia.

Gilley's Beer neon sign on display inside the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.
Gilley's Beer neon sign on display inside the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.(Blake Holland/KLTV)

“He had cleaned out a storeroom and found a neon sign and beer bottle from Gilley’s,” Ritter-Smith said. “I drove to Pasadena and picked it up and we’re very proud of that. It makes a good addition to the display.”

A display in an East Texas museum where Mickey Gilley’s legacy lives on.

“He’s going to be missed.”

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