Culture

Country music Hall of Famer Mel Tillis dead at 85

Country music Hall of Famer Mel Tillis dead at 85”

Country music star Mel Tillis has tragically passed away at the age of 85.

In a press release from Absolute Publicity, Tillis' publicist Don Murry Grubbs confirmed that Tillis died at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida after battling an intestinal issue since 2016.

He is said to have died from respiratory failure.

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In his later years, Tillis was known more for his songwriting than his own recording - 600 of his songs have been recorded by major artists ranging from Kenny Rogers to George Strait to Ricky Skaggs. He overcame a stutter to sing on dozens of his own singles, such as "Good Woman Blues", "Coca Cola Cowboy" and "Southern Rain". He had six No. 1 singles and more than 30 top 10 hits and was named the Country Music Association's entertainer of the year in 1976.

"Mel Tillis was a guy who had it all: He could write, he could sing and he could entertain an audience", said Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs.

His daughter is country music singer Pam Tillis.

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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". He developed a speech impediment after a childhood bout of malaria, the Tennessean reported. President Barack Obama bestowed the National Medal of Arts award upon Tillis in 2012.

Tributes from fellow country music stars poured in on social media, with musician and "The Voice" judge Blake Shelton describing Tillis' death as "a truly devastating loss". 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. "There's a big difference between a concert and a show". He starred in several television movies and briefly had a network TV show, "Mel and Susan Together", with Susan Anton.

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