Blake Shelton Mourns Mel Tillis: 'I Will Miss Him Terribly'

20 November, 2017, 01:25 | Author: Warren Cooper
  • Country music legend dead: Mel Tillis dies at 85 following health battle

Four years later, he received the National Medal of Arts for his contributions to country music during a White House ceremony.

Tillis died early Sunday morning in an Ocala, Florida hospital, a statement posted on Absolute Publicity's website said. Respiratory failure is the suspected cause of death.

The singer was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in June of 2007 by his daughter, singer and songwriter Pam Tillis.

Tillis, born Lonnie Melvin Tillis, grew up in Florida and developed a stutter that would stay with him throughout his life as a result of an early bout of malaria; the stutter did not affect his singing voice. His stutter became a trademark that Tillis mined for laughs, although it disappeared when he sang. After leaving the service he went to work for a railroad while writing songs on the side, eventually moving to Nashville in 1957 to pursue a music career.

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Throughout the singer's 60 plus year career, the Grand Ole Opry member recorded more than 60 albums, had 35 Top Ten singles, scorred six #1 hits ("I Ain't Never", "Coca-Cola Cowboy", "Southern Rains", "Good Woman Blues", "Heart Healer", and "I Believe In You").

Among hits he wrote for others were "Detroit City" for Bobby Bare, and "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town", by Rogers and the First Edition.

The former Air Force baker - who had his heyday in the 1970s - also dipped into film and television, appearing on shows such as "Hee Haw" and movies including "Smokey and the Bandit II" (1980) and "Every Which Way but Loose" (1978), alongside Clint Eastwood.

Tillis wrote more than 1,000 songs, with around 600 of those being recorded by major artists. He also made a TV appearance in an episode of "The Dukes of Hazzard" in the late '70s. "There will never be another Mel Tillis!".

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