On Friday, July 19, 2013, Joey Riley, a name synonymous with great entertainment, departed for Heaven, leaving the Earth the way he spent his life, surrounded by laughter and love. Survivors include: his wife Kelli Riley; sister Terri Magill and husband David; brother Scott Riley; nieces Christen Magill, Charise Thomason and husband Jason; and great nephew Luke Riley Thomason. Joey will join his parents, the late George and Clara Riley, grandmother Clara Carr and many cousins, aunts and uncles in a heavenly reunion.
Joey was unable to overcome Stage IV Colon Cancer despite the overwhelming love and support shown by friends, fans, family and fellow Branson, Missouri, entertainers. A benefit concert performed to a packed house in April, not only provided fans with laughs, smiles and classic Riley humor, but allowed the Rileys to afford the best medical treatment available.
43-year-old Joey was born and raised in Wylie, Texas, and got his start in his parents’ music venue, the Wylie Opry, which they built so he and his brother, Scott, could have a family-friendly environment in which to perform. Joey was successful from a young age. Before he was 17, he toured with Capitol Records artists Gene Stroman and Suzy Bogguss, playing the steel guitar and fiddle. He then toured with the Warren Stokes Country Revue out of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and added “comedian” to his talents. After a couple years, he found his way to Branson, Missouri, where he joined the Texas Gold Minors. Country music legend Mickey Gilley happened to be in the audience one day and asked him to join his show. Riley stayed by Gilley’s side for over 20 years. In 2012, Joey ended his tenure with Gilley and joined up with longtime friend and fellow Wylie native Clay Cooper. He performed nightly as part of “Clay Cooper’s Country Music Express” and in his own show at Music City Centre on Branson’s famed Highway 76 strip.
Joey’s funny faces, laugh-out-loud comedy, wild eyes and crazy antics have entertained families for more than 20 years. He will always be remembered as not just a singer, not just a musician, not just a comedian, but a great entertainer.
The Riley family would like to say a special thanks to the staff of Cox Medical Center in Branson and Springfield, all the fans, supporters and friends who stood by them during Joey’s time of need.
A celebration of Joey’s life will be 11:00 a.m. Monday, July 22, 2013, at The Clay Cooper Theatre, Branson, Missouri with Pastor Ted Cunningham officiating. Cremation and services are under the direction of Cremations of the Ozarks. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in memory of Joey may be made to the Riley family to help with medical expenses.