Southern Style: Country Talents on Tour: Gilley and Fortune

By Randall Franks    tsj column writers - southern style

 

A illuminating part of my early career was participating in the Country Music Association’s Country Music Fan Fair in Nashville, Tenn.

I will never forget the years that Mickey Gilley’s booth was next to Grand Ole Opry stars Jim and Jesse. Jim and Jesse’s booth is where I started meeting fans before I earned one of my own.

It was just a few years after the height of the popularity of the film “Urban Cowboy” starring John Travolta and Debra Winger, and was filmed at and based on Gilley’s Nightclub in Pasadena, Texas which was known as the world’s biggest honky tonk.  The film included a cameo by Mickey Gilley, plus a few of his recordings were featured on the star-studded soundtrack that included songs by Kenny Rogers, The Charlie Daniels Band, Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Buffett, Eagles, Anne Murray and other acclaimed artists.

Mickey and all those who worked with him through his club Gilleys were riding high. It was such a thrill to spend the time next to Johnny Lee, Dallas star Charlene Tilton and the other who were visiting with fans from the both.

These thoughts came rushing back to me when I heard Mickey was launching his North American concert tour, dedicated to the 35th anniversary of his iconic “Urban Cowboy” single.  He will appear across the country and each show will include Gilley’s greatest hits as well as a pre-show video presentation on his exceptional life and career.

“I’ve been in the music industry for more than 50 years now, and it never gets old,” he said. “I look forward to the areas we’ll be visiting during the tour, and celebrating the Urban Cowboy anniversary. I’m truly honored by the continued support of fans over the years.”

Grammy-winning Mickey Gilley has scored 17 No. One hits, 39 Top Ten singles and 8 ten Top Ten albums.  Notable songs for the six-time ACM winner include “Room Full of Roses,” “I Overlooked an Orchid,” “City Lights,” “Window Up Above,” “Stand by Me,” and “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time.”

Mickey Gilley has released more than 30 albums, and has a star along the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  He is a member of the National Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame and Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.  The legendary singer and his famous cousins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, are proud Delta Music Hall of Fame members.

Learn more to find out if his tour is coming near you by visiting:mickeygilley.com.

Country Music Award Shows were always a great opportunity to meet other country stars that an artist might not get to appear with on the road. Standing back stage one day looking out at the rehearsals, now Country Music Hall of Famer Jimmy Fortune walked up beside me and we met for the first time.

Though many years have passed from that initial meeting in the days when he was a member of the Statler Brothers, we have kept in touch and I am excited to say he is also hard at work on the road. He’s known as one of the most distinctive tenor singers in the history of Country Music, with a resume that includes CMA and IBMA Awards, Gold and Platinum records.

Fortune first came to the attention of Country Music fans in 1982, when he was selected to replace Lew DeWitt as the tenor singer of the legendary Statler Brothers. The singer spent two decades with the group until their retirement in October 2002.

Fortune’s songwriting helped to give the quartet some of their biggest hits, such as “Elizabeth,” “My Only Love,” “Too Much On My Heart” and “More Than A Name On A Wall.” Since embarking on a solo career, Fortune has released the well-received albums When One Door Closes and I Believe.

He also continues to flourish as a songwriter, with collaborations with such tunesmiths as Bill Anderson, Kenny Beard, and Kevin Denney. It was with Denney and Tom Botkin that he wrote “On The Other Side,” which was recorded by Bluegrass superduo Dailey and Vincent, and netted the trio an award for Recorded Gospel Song of the Year from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA).

I encourage you to learn more about his show dates and what’s new with Jimmy by visiting JimmyFortune.com.

Randall Franks is an award-winning musician, singer and actor. He is best known for his role as “Officer Randy Goode” on TV’s “In the Heat of the Night” now on WGN America. His latest CD release, “Mississippi Moon,” is by Crimson Records. He is a member of the Independent Country Music Hall of Fame. His latest book is “Encouragers I : Finding the Light.” He is a syndicated columnist for http://randallfranks.com/ and can be reached at rfrankscatoosa@gmail.com.

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