Country music legend Mel Tillis dead at 85

20 November, 2017, 02:20 | Author: Raquel Nash
  • Blake Shelton Shares Touching Memories of the Late Mel Tillis

He passed away early Sunday morning in Ocala, Florida, after a lengthy battle with intestinal issues and suspected respiratory failure, according to a statement from his publicist.

Through the late '50s and '60s, Tillis balanced his career as a then-minor hitmaker in his own right with bigger songwriting successes for other artists, including Kenny Rogers and the First Edition's "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" and Bobby Bare's "Detroit City".

His commercial peak came in the 1970s when he had a string of top 10 hits, including "Good Woman Blues", "Heart Healer" and "Coca Cola Cowboy".

From Tim McGraw, "Man, one of the coolest guys in country music ever and an extraordinary songwriter!"

Besides being a successful recording artist, Tillis performed at the Grand Ole Opry and made frequent television appearances, as well as playing small roles in movies such as Smokey and the Bandit II and The Cannonball Run.

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In 2011, Tillis was named a National Medal of Arts recipient for his contributions to country music, the Tennessean reported. He also briefly co-hosted an ABC prime-time series, "Mel and Susan Together", with supermodel Susan Anton in 1978. In 2007, Tillis was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame. He developed the stutter as a child after a bout with malaria. He dropped out of the University of Florida and instead served in the Air Force and worked on the railroad before relocating to Nashville in 1957. He started performing in the early 50s with a group called The Westerners. Feeling down one day he began singing to himself, "Oh Lord, I'm exhausted". Tillis eventually moved to Nashville and began writing songs full-time, most notably for Webb Pierce.

Price, Skaggs, Brenda Lee and hundreds of others would cover his songs.

"I'm just so thankful, for everything", he said when he was inducted.

The Tillis family asks for your prayers and will soon release more information regarding funeral services in Florida and Nashville.

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