As Mickey Gilley left the stage in Hiawassee on a recent Saturday night, he said, “Thank you for the memories.” He clearly enjoyed sharing the songs from his career. He performed many of the 17 number one hits he has had during his more than 50 years in the business. How wonderful to still be doing what you love at 85.

Gilley’s voice was as strong and smooth as ever as he performed “Stand by Me” from the “Urban Cowboy” movie, which I’m sure is always on the playlist when he takes the stage.

Gilley told the crowd in Hiawassee, “I still have my voice but I don’t have my legs or my hands or my body.” He is no longer able to play the piano but he still puts on a great show.

Gilley and Johnny Lee are performing an “Urban Cowboy” reunion tour. Lee is 75 and came on stage on a scooter and sat while performing. His words were somewhat slurred while talking but he still has that familiar smooth singing voice. After a few songs, he said, “I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease a while ago. I didn’t want you to think I’m drunk. I’m not.”

In addition to his familiar hit songs, Lee sang a few new songs he has written and he still has a talent for writing great songs. He ended with his “Urban Cowboy” hit, “Looking for Love,” which he stood to sing. Lee said he is often asked if he ever gets tired of singing that song. He quickly said that he doesn’t.

After Lee performed, I saw him in the back of the theater on his scooter listening to Gilley perform. When fans stopped to talk to him, he would pose for a photo and chat with them for a few minutes. It’s clear he still enjoys touring and interacting with his fans.

So impressive that these two men are still doing what they love at their age and with their health issues.

I’m glad the “Urban Cowboy” reunion is bringing back fond memories for Gilley and Lee. It also brought back some fond memories for me. It’s hard to believe it’s been over 40 years since that movie was released. The music for a movie is usually just background music but that wasn’t the case with “Urban Cowboy.” The songs of Gilley and Lee advanced the storyline and the romance of Bud and Sissy and was an integral part of the movie. 

It was fun to hear Lee and Gilley performing and I’m inspired to know they are still touring at 85 and 75.

The concert was at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee. If you haven’t been to a concert here, you should check it out. It’s a great venue. Not really a bad seat as far as seeing the stage goes but I do prefer the chairs up front to the benches in the back.

Angela Gary is an editor with MainStreet Newspapers Inc. She can be reached at

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