In 2009, the country rockstar Mickey Gilley was involved in a horrible accident falling back down some stairs while helping a friend move a couch. The previous year, he suffered from a condition that required fluid removed from his brain.
The accident left him in intensive care, paralyzed from the neck down. The singer may not have recovered completely but he is well enough to perform in Cedartown on Saturday night, a nearly sold-out show at the Performing Arts Center with his life story and all his hits, helping a worthy cause along the way.
American country music singer and musician Mickey Leroy Gilley was born to Arthur Fillmore Gilley and Irene Gilley in Natchez, Mississippi.
Gilly’s musical career sprung off in 1974 when he recorded a song that originally was only supposed to be recorded for fun “Room Full of Roses”, written by Tim Spencer of the Sons of the Pioneers.
The song was released by Astro Records that year, and then Playboy Records got a hold of the single, and got national distribution for “Room Full of Roses”. From then on, Gilley was signed to Playboy Records working with his long-time friend Eddie Kilroy.
Although he started out singing straight-up country and western material in the 1970s, he moved towards a more pop-friendly sound in the 1980s, bringing him further success on not just the country charts, but the pop charts as well.
Among his songs that became great hits are “Room Full of Roses,” “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time,” and the remake of the Soul hit “Stand by Me”. Mickey talks more about his accident and the aftermath in an interview with The Boot,
“When I got to ICU, when I woke up, I was still paralyzed, but then things began to slowly start to come back,” Mickey tells The Boot. “My arms started back first, and then my right leg, and now I’ve got [movement] in both legs and both arms.
The only thing that’s giving me a problem now is my hands, but the doctor seems to think that when the swelling completely goes down in the spinal cord, that my hands should come back. It was very scary because I panicked when I woke up and couldn’t move.”
Mickey was in physical therapy four days a week, concentrating on trying to walk again when the interview took place in 2009.
“I’ve walked a little bit with some help. They put me on a little four-wheel dolly, and I walked 454 feet. Then one day I walked 300 feet. Then they put me on a [machine which] helps you walk.
It helps your legs up, and they put a certain amount of weight down on you on a treadmill — about half of what your weight is and you walk on that. I’ve done that a couple of times. But you’re strapped in and they hold you up when you’re walking.”
Gilley’s first wife was Geraldine Garrett, who he married in 1953 and they had their divorce in 1961. She was the mother of three of his four children (Keith Ray, Michael, and Kathy).
Gilley’s second wife is the former Vivian McDonald, with whom he has another son, Gregory. They married in 1962. Gilley’s children Kathy and Keith are in the music business. Mickey Gilley has an estimated net worth of $20 million.