Two of the original hitmakers from the renowned 1980 film, Urban Cowboy starring John Travolta, have reunited for a joint tour across America. The duo includes “Lookin’ For Love” singer Johnny Lee and Mickey Gilley, owner of Gilley’s nightclub that was prominently featured in the film. Between the two, Lee and Gilley have had 25 number one singles on the country charts since they hit the scene in the late 1960s.
“I’ve been wanting to get back with Mickey Gilley for a long time. I started working with him again at his theater last year,” Lee told Amplify. “Hell, to be honest with you, we missed each other.”
The two kicked off their Urban Cowboy Reunion tour earlier this year and are slated to play at least 30 shows together in 2018. Gilley, 81, and Lee, 71, have already sold out the majority of the gigs they’ve played.
“We were very lucky and very fortunate to be a part of that film. I don’t get tired of playing the Urban Cowboy songs. We’ve sold out every show but one and that only had a few seats left,” Lee said, jokingly adding “I don’t know if people are coming to see us because they like us or they think it might be the last time or they’re coming to see what we look like now.”
For the Urban Cowboy Reunion tour, Lee plays a solo set first of his hits and newer songs. Lee most recently released an album, You Ain’t Never Been to Texas, in 2016. Gilley follows with his own solo set before the two reunite on stage to play songs from the film.
“At the end of our performance, we do a medley that is about 20-25 min of nothing but the Urban Cowboy music. That’s what we close the show with,” Gilley told Amplify. “I think people have been getting a kick out of all the songs that we’ve been presenting.”
The Urban Cowboy medley at the end of the show is also accompanied by clips from the film that they both had rolls in.
“We found out that people still liked the music from the soundtrack of Urban Cowboy,” Gilley said. “Me and Johnny together, he had ‘Lookin’ For Love’ and I had ‘Stand By Me’ which were two major songs in the film. Then we picked the major songs out of the other parts of the film and use sounds and video to make it come alive for people.”
So far, the duo has said they’ve seen a variety in their audience. While many of their attendees were witness to Urban Cowboy‘s soundtrack pivoting country music into the mainstream with ten gallon hats and bolo ties, they are seeing a resurgence in its popularity amongst a younger generation.
“There were a lot of young people there who weren’t even born when the film was made. I told my friend, Johnny Lee, I said ‘You know what? It’s them that really kept our career alive,'” Gilley said. “That’s the reason why we went back out on the road to present this music to folks. It’s not all about the money, it’s about the music and what we represent in the country music field.”
The warm reception to the reunion tour has been a welcome revelation for both the seasoned musicians, but it is something they are both passionate about doing and will continue doing for years to come.
“Whenever I’m not with him, I’m touring with my band,” Lee said. “I’m going to do it ’til I can’t do it anymore.”
“I am surprised by the reception, but I am not surprised that they enjoy the music. It has come alive again. We’ve been having a great time with it,” said Gilley. “As long as my voice holds up and my health holds up, which I’m doing pretty good, I’ll be out there shaking the bushes.”