Mel Tillis, Longtime Country Singer and Songwriter, Dies at 85
Country music legend Mel Tillis died early Sunday morning in a Florida hospital. He was 85.
Earlier this year, Tillis' health struggles became known to the public. Spokesman Don Murry Grubbs said Tillis had battled intestinal issues since 2016 and never fully recovered. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure.
Tillis recorded over 60 albums during his six decade music career, and had over 30 top 10 hits on the country charts with “Good Woman Blues,” ″Coca Cola Cowboy” and “Southern Rain.” Among the hits he wrote for others were “Detroit City” for Bobby Bare; “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” by Rogers and the First Edition; and “Thoughts of a Fool” for George Strait.
Country music stars Charlie Daniels, Crystal Gayle and Blake Shelton offered their condolences on Twitter.
“He once spent an entire day at his place in Tennessee showing me all the memorabilia he’d gathered over the years where he gave me a pair of his stage boots,” Shelton’s account said. “He even took time to talk me through some hard times in my life on a couple phone calls.”
Although his early efforts to get a record deal were rebuffed because of his stutter, he was a promising songwriter in Nashville in the 1950s and 1960s, writing tunes for Webb Pierce and Ray Price.
In all, the Country Music Hall of Fame member wrote more than 1,000 songs and in 2012 received a National Medal of Arts for bringing “his unique blend of warmth and humor to the great tradition of country music.”
He also dabbled in acting, appearing in such feature films as Clint Eastwood’s “Every Which Way But Loose,” and the Burt Reynolds movies “Cannonball Run I and II” and “Smokey and the Bandit II.” He starred in several television movies and briefly had a network TV show, “Mel and Susan Together,” with Susan Anton.
In 2007, Tillis' daughter Pam, who is also a country singer, inducted her father into the prestigious Grand Ole Opry. He would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame one year later. In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts.
Besides his daughter Pam, Tillis leaves behind five other children.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.....
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