By Chris Edwards
CORRIGAN – Country legend Mickey Gilley was involved in a two-vehicle wreck in Corrigan late last Wednesday morning.
Gilley's son Michael was the driver, with Gilley riding in the front passenger seat. At around 11 a.m., a 2016 white Cadillac driven by Johnny Ellis travelling west on FM 1987 collided with the Gilleys' vehicle, according to a report from Corrigan Police Department.
The Gilleys were northbound on U.S. 59 when Ellis reportedly failed to yield the right of way to the Gilleys' vehicle, a 2013 silver Toyota SUV, and proceeded into the intersection where Ellis's Cadillac struck the Toyota on the passenger side.
The force of the impact caused the Toyota to veer off the main slab of highway into the median, where it rolled three or four times before coming to rest upside-down, according to the report.
Mickey Gilley refused EMS treatment at the scene, but it was later determined that he had suffered a shoulder and ankle injury. Michael Gilley sustained bruises and Ellis was not injured. According to a social media posting from Mickey Gilley's business manager, Jess McDonald, "He's really sore, but there's no surgery. He's at home resting."
According to another posting to social media, Gilley and his son were en route to Branson, Missouri, where Gilley owns a theater and regularly performs.
Gilley, an 81-year-old singer/songwriter/pianist, was a steady presence on the country charts in the 1970s with such hits as "Room Full of Roses" and his cover of the soul classic "Stand by Me." He became arguably more famous for his bar in Pasadena, Gilley's, where the hit 1980 movie Urban Cowboy was filmed.
Word of Gilley's accident spread through social media on Wednesday evening. Fellow country singer/songwriter and Livingston resident Doug Supernaw re-posted photos from the wreck scene on Facebook and praised the efforts of Michael Pounders of Clifton Chevrolet Towing and Recovery for taking care of Mickey Gilley after the accident. "He's a trooper," Supernaw wrote in the post.
In recent years, Gilley's recording activity has waned, but he has kept a busy itinerary of performances, in spite of health struggles. In July 2009, he had an accident while moving furniture, which left him partially paralyzed from the neck down. Although he was able to return to the stage after physical therapy, he still lacks the hand coordination needed to play piano, according to a story titled "The Comeback Cowboy," published in the Feb. 1, 2012 edition of the Houston Press.
Gilley's current schedule shows seven dates confirmed from January until June, with a show slated for last Saturday at the Texan Theater in Greenville. That show has been postponed.
Ellis is also something of a legend in certain circles for his music. Known around the area as the "East Texas Playboy," Ellis, 86, is a country singer/songwriter who played in various bands in the region and co-wrote the song "Honky Tonk Man" with Johnny Horton.
Although the police report of the incident lists Ellis as a Groveton resident, he also maintains a residence in Corrigan and is a familiar sight around town where he occasionally sings and plays songs for the public in various locations.
Ellis, who was profiled in a 2016 story titled "Corrigan Songster is a little-known link to country music's past," published in a special section of the Polk Country Enterprise to highlight senior citizens' lifestyles in the region, spoke of his frustrations with the music business and how some of his songs were stolen from him while he was in Nashville. Ellis is retired from playing gigs on the road, and said he enjoys playing for crowds in front of stores "just for fun, and for practice."
According to Corrigan PD, the accident is still under investigation. Along with Corrigan PD, personnel from Clifton Chevrolet Towing and Recovery and Riley's Wrecker Service were also present to remove the damaged vehicles.