Gilley's Legendary Honky-Tonk Bounces Back To Life

New entertainment-complex venue planned — complete with club's famous mechanical bull.

Country hitmaker Mickey Gilley and his rowdy Pasadena, Texas, honky-tonk found fame in the 1980 film "Urban Cowboy," starring John Travolta. But in 1989, fire ravaged the country venue, and it died.

Plans are underway, however, for the rebirth of this country-music landmark as part of "South Side," a development project in downtown Dallas, which combines entertainment venues with high-rise loft apartments, retail stores and hotels.

"I'm excited that we're trying to keep the dream alive," said the flamboyant Gilley, who grew up in Louisiana with his famous cousins, rock 'n' roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis and television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart. "[The original] went down in a blaze of glory, and I hated to see it go that way."

Classic artists who graced Gilley's original stage include Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, the Oak Ridge Boys, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Ernest Tubb, Dottie West, Brenda Lee and Bobby Bare.

"I look forward to it coming alive again; I think everybody still wants to see what Gilley's was like from the 'Urban Cowboy' era," Gilley added.

The new Gilley's Dallas Texas, scheduled to open in the spring of 2001, will be an expansive 190,000-square-foot entertainment complex, blending intimate saloons with convention facilities, several restaurants and bars, shops, an exclusive backstage club and an indoor rodeo arena — all with themes from Gilley's string of hits from the 1970s and '80s.

Naturally, the mechanical bucking bull that played such a pivotal role in "Urban Cowboy" will be back.