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Branson holds celebration of life for star Mickey Gilley

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 9:29 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - Family, friends, and fans gathered in Branson Friday to remember county music legend Mickey Gilley.

Gilley died on May 7 at the age of 86. Gilley opened a theatre in Branson in the 1990′s.

“As big of a star as he was on such a national level. When he’d come upon you one on one, he was just a regular guy,” friend Clay Cooper says. “He treated everyone as if they were as special as he was, and it didn’t matter where he was or who he was around. Everyone was treated kindly.”

Mickey Gilley is known worldwide for his talent and the impact he had on country music.

“He just stayed so true to it, and it’s really a tribute to his talent that after all of these years, he was still up there pumping,” friend Bill Medley says.

Branson entertainer Mike Walker says Gilley was the first person to give him a shot to perform in Branson.

“He’s been kind of my cheering section the entire time I’ve been here,” Walker says.

Loved ones remembered the Branson entertainer as a good person with a big heart.

“Mickey was one of my best friends,” Walker says. “We talked regularly, and it’s gonna be pretty tough.”

Gilley leaves behind the legacy of someone who always loved to laugh and always went the distance for his friends.

“One time, this girl broke up with me, and he drove me to Louisiana to find her,” Johnny Lee says.

“A girl broke up with you, and Mickey took you to Louisiana to look for her because you wanted her back?” Cooper asked.

“Yeah,” Lee says.

“Now that’s a good friend,” Cooper says.

Gilley would reach out to show support for new performers in town or offer whatever help he could.

“He just made us feel like we were probably his sons or grandsons,” friend JC Fisher says. “It was just one of those things that every time we’d see Mickey in the theater. He would always come up to us and talk to us.”

“He would do anything for you,” friend John Hagen says. “He was everybody’s friend. If he met you and shook your hand, you were his friend. It was a real honor to know him.”

Gilley spent decades on the stage in Branson. His theater on the strip will keep the Mickey Gilley name. It’s a testament to him and the impact he had on the community in Branson.

“It’s always going to have his name on it,” Lee says.

“His name will always be on this building, and people will never forget the impact that Mickey Gilley had on the lives of the world,” Cooper says.

“He’s a great loss to everybody, so Godspeed, Mickey,” friend Bucky Heard says.

A public memorial for Gilley will also be held in Pasadena, Texas, on June 9.

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