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Mickey Gilley, the country music hitmaker and an inspiration behind Urban Cowboy, is dead at 86

Mickey Gilley, the country music hitmaker and an inspiration behind Urban Cowboy, is dead at 86

Mickey Gilley, the country music singer with a string of hits in the 1970s and ’80s, has died at age 86.

The Mayor of Pasadena, Texas, announced that the singer had died on Saturday while ‘surrounded by his loved ones.’

Gilley helped put the city near Houston on the map when he opened the football stadium–sized honky tonk Gilley’s Club there, which helped inspire the hit John Travolta film Urban Cowboy in 1980. 

Music legend: Mickey Gilley, the country music singer with a string of hits in the 1970s and ’80s, has died at age 86; seen in 2015

Gilley died in Branson, Missouri, where his Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre was located.

Although he was best known for his country music, the singer was a cousin of rock and roll royalty Jerry Lee Lewis. 

In 1970, he opened Gilley’s Club in Pasadena, which featured both a smaller club and a larger rodeo arena. The enormous venue eventually became known as ‘the world’s largest honky tonk.’

The club inspired an Esquire article about a couple who spent time at the honky tonk, which in turn was the inspiration for the popular 1980 film Urban Cowboy, which starred John Travolta and Debra Winger.

The film, which was a hit at the box office and with critics, was compared favorably to Travolta’s earlier movie Saturday Night Fever, though this time it focused on country music rather than disco.

Namesake: In 1970, he opened Gilley's Club in Pasadena, which featured both a smaller club and a larger rodeo arena. The enormous venue eventually became known as 'the world’s largest honky tonk'; seen circa 1970

Namesake: In 1970, he opened Gilley’s Club in Pasadena, which featured both a smaller club and a larger rodeo arena. The enormous venue eventually became known as ‘the world’s largest honky tonk’; seen circa 1970

True life: The club inspired an Esquire article about a couple who spent time at the honky tonk, which in turn was the inspiration for the popular 1980 film Urban Cowboy, which starred John Travolta and Debra Winger (pictured)

True life: The club inspired an Esquire article about a couple who spent time at the honky tonk, which in turn was the inspiration for the popular 1980 film Urban Cowboy, which starred John Travolta and Debra Winger (pictured)

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk