Stand By Me

Album: Encore (1980)
Charted: 22
Play Video


  • Every now and then, we stumble upon a song that's not so much notable for the song itself, as for the number of quirky facts around it. Such is the case with this cover of "Stand By Me," which earns its own entry.

    This is of course the famous "Stand By Me," written by the sensational team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and first made famous by Ben E. King. Not that you'd know it from listening to the beginning. We'll leave it up to you to judge if it makes a successful transition to a country and western song. We haven't heard such a genre jump since novelty-lounge-singer Richard Cheese got a hold of "Beat It."

    This was country-and-western singer Mickey Gilley's only Top 40 US Billboard hit, so we have a "one-hit wonder" as far as the Hot 100 is concerned. However, Gilley has been storming the US and Canadian Country charts since 1974 with his first US Country #1 "Room Full of Roses" til the end of the '80s with four singles from his Chasin' Rainbows album. So frankly Gilley has just as much call to laugh at the Billboard chart, rather than the other way around.

    Gilley is also the first cousin of both musician Jerry Lee Lewis and televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. Sure, you knew they were related, right? Especially with Swaggart's 1986 comment that rock music was "the new pornography."
  • Now at last we can talk about the song! This cover of the song was used in the soundtrack of the 1980 film Urban Cowboy, starring John Travolta and Debra Winger. It's notable for trying to stuff John Travolta into a stereotypical cowboy costume at the most stereotypical of cowboy bars. Yes, this is the 1980s John Travolta, looking more like a Welcome Back Kotter Sweathog than a Pulp Fiction mobster. You couldn't imagine somebody who looks more out of place if you cast Mr. Spock as Spongebob Squarepants. And the bar is named "Gilley's" after - you guessed it - Mickey Gilley himself, who also has a role in the film. It's a real place, complete with mechanical bull.

    Now, don't you dare think of this film as a flop. It banked more than $50 million worldwide.

Comments: 2

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyJust an added fact to the post below; "Stand By Me" was the second of six straight #1 records by Mickey on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart, plus it peaked at #3 on the Canadian RPM Country Singles chart.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 5th 1980, the movie "Urban Cowboy" had its world premier in Houston, Texas; the next day it opened in theaters across the U.S.A.
    One month earlier on May 11th "Stand By Me" by Mickey Gilley would enter Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #85; and on July 27th it peaked at #22 (for 3 weeks) and spent 18 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on August 3rd it reached #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
    Three other songs featured in the movie would also make the Top 100; "Lookin' For Love" by Johnny Lee (#5), "Love The World Away" by Kenny Rogers (#14), and "All Night Long" by Joe Walsh (#19; and it also entered the Top 100 on the same day as "Stand By Me")...
    Mr. Gilley celebrated his 78th birthday three months ago on March 9th, 2014.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Part of Their World: The Stories and Songs of 13 Disney Princesses

Part of Their World: The Stories and Songs of 13 Disney PrincessesSong Writing

From "Some Day My Prince Will Come" to "Let It Go" - how Disney princess songs (and the women who sing them) have evolved.

Which Restaurants Are Most Mentioned In Song Lyrics?

Which Restaurants Are Most Mentioned In Song Lyrics?Song Writing

Katy Perry mentions McDonald's, Beyoncé calls out Red Lobster, and Supertramp shouts out Taco Bell - we found the 10 restaurants most often mentioned in songs.

Jules Shear - "All Through The Night"

Jules Shear - "All Through The Night"They're Playing My Song

Shears does very little promotion, which has kept him secluded from the spotlight. What changed when Cyndi Lauper had a hit with his song? Not much, really.

Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New York

Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New YorkSong Writing

Can you be married in one country but not another? Only if you're part of a gay couple. One of the first famous singers to come out as a lesbian, Janis wrote a song about it.

Graham Nash

Graham NashSongwriter Interviews

Graham Nash tells the stories behind some of his famous songs and photos, and is asked about "yacht rock" for the first time.

Ian Gillan of Deep Purple

Ian Gillan of Deep PurpleSongwriter Interviews

Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan explains the "few red lights" in "Smoke On The Water" and talks about songs from their 2020 album Whoosh!