Gilley headlining annual Hank Williams Festival

Published 2:50 pm Friday, May 27, 2016

Country music legend Mickey Gilley will headline this year’s Hank Williams Sr. Festival.

The 37th annual Hank Williams Sr., “Salute to a Legend” Festival, will be held on the grounds of the famous singer’s boyhood home, which is now the Hank Williams Museum, in GeorgianaJune 3-4.

In addition to Gilley, Saturday’s lineup features, Williams’ daughter, Jett Williams, Brad Magness, Mary McDonald, Colon Leatherwood, Southern Legends, Elaine McMillan, Lottie Moore, Starla Jones, and others.

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For Jett Williams, 2016 will mark her 24th festival appearance.

“Coming back to Georgiana is like being part of a great big family,” said Williams. “I look forward to being able to walk around the grounds and talk with all the great friends there.

“It’s a thrill knowing that all the entertainers that will be there loved and appreciated Hank’s music. I don’t say it just because he was my father, but he was the greatest. His music and songs have touched and inspired so many people, not just fans, but other songwriters and musicians. If you listen to the radio, you will hear pop, blues, and just about every other type artist singing his songs. His style of music is still the standard by which our modern country music is judged.”

Like Hank Williams, Gilley grew up in a small town, and had to overcome many struggles before ever reaching star status. Growing up in Ferriday, La., with his two cousins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Jimmy Swaggart, Gilley didn’t achieve success as quickly as his two relatives.

While he was gifted in music, his first goal after getting married and having a son, was to earn enough money to make ends meet at a regular day job. After being inspired by the success of Jerry Lee, Gilley, who was living in Houston, Texas, at the time decided to pursue his own professional music career.

In 1960, Gilley was able to land a job for himself at the Nesfadel Club in Houston at the rate of $90 per week.

“I had hoped for something bigger, but the gig was surprisingly successful,” he told J. D. Davis, in the book Unconquered. “I felt successful. I was making enough to get by on. It was a good steady job and the people were coming out to hear me play.”

In 1971, Gilley teamed up with Houston businessman, Sherwood Cryer, to open “Gilley’s” in Pasadena, a suburb of Houston.  It became the world’s largest and hottest country music nightspot.

Gilley had arrived. But despite his increasing popularity in the Houston area, it wasn’t until he recorded “Room Full of Roses” in 1973 that he gained national attention. In 1976, he was named Best Male Vocalist of the Year at the Country Music Awards.

Then in 1984, the movie “Urban Cowboy” was made at Gilley’s. Suddenly Gilley was a household word with country music fans throughout the country.

He eventually moved to Branson, Missouri where he could play many of his 17 No. 1 hits for fans on a nightly basis.

Gilley will take the stage at the Hank Williams Festival between 8:45 p.m. and 9 p.m. on June 4.

The gates open on Saturday at 8 a.m., and there will be continuous music starting at about 9 a.m. Admission is $30.

Appearing June 3 ate The LACS, Scott Brantley, Brad Magness, Mary McDonald, Colon Leatherwood and others.

Fans can enter the park on Friday at 3 p.m. Admission is $20. Music will begin about 3 p.m. Barbecue plates will be available at 5 p.m. for $10.