Country music legend dead: Mel Tillis dies at 85 following health battle

Country music legend dead: Mel Tillis dies at 85 following health battle
Country Music Legend Mel Tillis Passes | Absolute Publicity

20 November, 2017

His other No. 1 hits were "I Ain't Never" in 1972, "Good Woman Blues" in 1976, "Heart Healer" in 1976, "I Believe in You" in 1978. Later that year, he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born in Tampa, Fla. on August 8, 1932.

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".

Tillis was a prolific singer-songwriter who penned more than 1,000 songs and recorded more than 60 albums in a career that spanned six decades.

"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.

Country music legend dead: Mel Tillis dies at 85 following health battle
Country music legend dead: Mel Tillis dies at 85 following health battle

Tillis found a way to turn his speech impediment into an asset by using his ready smile and innate comedic timing to get his audiences to laugh along with him. It disrupted his speaking, but did not affect his ability to sing. He started performing in the early 50s with a group called The Westerners.

His first big hit as a songwriter was "I'm exhausted", which was recorded that same year by Webb Pierce, who went on to record several more of Tillis's compositions. He had a couple of top 10 hits in the 1960s before reaching the top of the charts throughout the "70s".

Tillis was a familiar screen presence in the '70s and '80s, with small roles in films including "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings", "The Villain", "Every Which Way But Loose", "Smokey and the Bandit II", and both "Cannonball Run" movies.

Tillis, who famously stuttered when he spoke, but never when he sang, was named the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year.

A representative for Tillis' daughter Pam Tillis, also a country singer-songwriter, wrote on her Facebook page that his death was "sudden and unexpected".

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