By Michael Williams
Two country music greats, Mickey Gilley and Ronnie McDowell, will perform at Country Tonite Theater in Pigeon Forge Friday, Sept. 25.
Gilley is the cousin of Rock and Roll icon Jerry lee Lewis and is a star in his own right. Gilley amassed a remarkable 39 Top-Ten country hits, with 17 of those songs reaching the No. 1 spot on the country charts. In 1976, he swept the ACM Awards, hauling home trophies for Entertainer of the Year, Top Male Vocalist, Song of the Year, Single of the Year and Album of the Year. Some of Mickey’s hits include “Room Full of Roses”, “Don’t The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time?”, “Stand By Me”, and “Talk To Me.”
Gilley is best remembered for the music he wrote for the movie “Urban Cowboy” which starred John Travolta and introduced mechanical bull riding to the American culture. Gilley opened a famous bar in Pasadena, Texas known as Gilley’s which burned down in the 1990s. Afterwards he opened a theater in Branson where he performed for more than a decade.
For his contribution to the recording industry, Gilley has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6930 Hollywood, Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. On March 2, 2002, Gilley, along with his two famous cousins Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, were inducted into the Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame in Ferriday, Louisiana. Gilley also appeared on “Urban Cowboys,” episode nine in the third season of “American Pickers,” which aired originally on September 5, 2011.
Ronnie McDowell first emerged on the national stage following the death of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley in 1977. McDowell wrote and recorded a single entitled “the King is Gone” which sold more than 5 million records. McDowell followed that early success with a string of hits including “Older Women”, “In A New York Minute” and “Watchin’ Girls Go By.”
McDowell has become known for his painting as well as his singing. Some of his work featuring Elvis, Dolly Parton and Disney characters have become critical and commercial successes. McDowell’s voice sounds strikingly similar to Presley’s and has earned his work in the production of several movies based on the rock legend’s life. McDowell sang thirty six songs on the soundtrack, “Elvis,” the Dick Clark-produced television movie which featured Kurt Russell as the performer. He also provided the singing voice of the soundtracks for the Priscilla Presley TV biopic “Elvis and Me”, the ABC television series about the early years of Presley’s career, “Elvis,” and the 1997 Showtime special, “Elvis Meets Nixon.”
For ticket information for the Ronnie McDowell and Mickey Gilley concert call 865-453-2003.