Country Singer Mel Tillis Dead at 85

Posted November 20, 2017

Tillis passed away on 19 November 2017 in Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida. According to a statement made by his publicist, the musician battled intestinal issues and reportedly suffered respiratory failure.

After earning his first charting country single with "The Violet and a Rose", Tillis established himself as a songwriter with hits like "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)", "Mental Revenge" and Peggy Lee's "Emotions". Over the course of his long career, he wrote more than 1,000 songs, recorded more than 60 albums, had almost three dozen top-10 singles, and pegged six No. 1 hits, including "Coca-Cola Cowboy", "I Ain't Never", and "I Believe in You". It wasn't a commercial success, but the group was nominated for vocal event of the year by the Country Music Association.

The singer-songwriter had written over 60 albums through his career, having over 10 top 10 singles throughout his career.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in October 2007, just four months after joining the Grand Ole Opry.

Born Lonnie Melvin Tillis near Tampa, Florida, a childhood attack of malaria caused a speech impediment that, in later years, he used to for comedic effect when performing on stage.

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Tillis had undergone colon surgery in January 2016 and canceled a scheduled trip on the Country Music Cruise. His stutter became a trademark that Tillis mined for laughs, although it disappeared when he sang.

In 2011, Tillis was named a National Medal of Arts recipient for his contributions to country music, the Tennessean reported.

Tillis moved to Nashville from Plant City, Florida after serving in the U.S. Air Force as a baker.

Tillis also had something of an acting career, with small roles in a number of films such as "The Cannonball Run" and "Smokey and the Bandit II". "There will never be another Mel Tillis!". His family plans to announce funeral arrangements in Nashville and Florida soon. "You always felt good about being around him".