Gilley’s was a classic honkytonk club in Pasadena, Texas owned by country singer Mickey Gilley. It opened in 1971 and reached fame when it was prominently featured in the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy starring John Travolta and Debra Winger.
The building itself wasn’t anything special – it had a corrugated steel roof – but it was massive and drew in crowds on Friday and Saturday. Gilley didn’t own the club alone. Gilley’s record producer Sherwood Cryer was his partner. They had a big falling out and then in 1990, a fire (attributed to arson) closed Gilley’s for good. There’s a new Gilley’s in Dallas. While it has a lot of the Urban Cowboy memorabilia including the original mechanical bull, El Toro, it’s not the same. Compared to the original honkytonk, Gilley’s Dallas is downright fancy. A special on CMT, Urban Cowboy: The Rise and Fall of Gilley’s, will air June 13 at 9pm.