November 20

Country Legend and Hall of Famer Mel Tillis Dies at 85

Country Legend Mel Tillis died early Sunday morning.  He died at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida. After a long battle with intestinal issues since 2016, he died at 85. The cause of his passing was respiratory failure.

Mel Tillis was a singer-songwriter who wrote more than a thousand songs and with the span of six decades, recorded more than 60 albums. Many of his songs were recorded by other country artists like George Strait, Ricky Skaggs, and Kenny Rogers.

Tillis’ career peaked during the 1970s and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

Before he went to Nashville, Tillis briefly attended the University of Florida. He joined the U.S. Air Force to serve in the Korean War and was stationed in Okinawa, where he spent his time cooking and singing on Armed Forces Radio.

On Sunday morning the songwriter’s fellow country music stars and fans praised his contributions to the country music and offered condolences on Twitter.

He was born as Lonnie Melvin Tillis in Tampa, Florida, he suffered a spell of malaria as a boy that left him with a chronic stutter. His stutter became a trademark that Tillis mined for laughs, although it disappeared when he sang.

In an interview with People Magazine in 1976, Tillis said performing helped him overcome his stutter.

“The more I go onstage, and feel my independence and that power over audiences, the less I stutter.”

According to his website, he became the spokesman and honorary chairman of the Stuttering Foundation of America in 1998.

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 also made a TV appearance in an episode of “The Dukes of Hazzard” in the late ’70s.

In February 2012 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts — the highest honor given to artists by the US government — by President Barack Obama.

For those who are not familiar with him, here’s an interview with him back in 1984.

We would also like to send our condolences to his bereaved, he will be remembered.


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