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

20 November, 2017, 02:21 | Author: Julian Swanson
  • Mel Tillis

The late Mel Tillis, who passed away early Sunday morning (Nov. 19), had an indelible effect on country music - and one modern country star in particular.

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

Tillis, a father of six who endeared fans with his stammer and self-deprecating charm, recorded more than 60 albums, scored 35 top 10 singles, and saw 600 of his songs recorded by major artists during a career spanning six decades.

Country music stars Charlie Daniels, Crystal Gayle and Blake Shelton offered their condolences on Twitter.

He also appeared in films such as "Cannonball Run" and "Smokey and the Bandit". It wasn't a commercial success, but the group was nominated for vocal event of the year by the Country Music Association. "It's a way of showing people that it hasn't licked me, so it doesn't have to lick others". President Barack Obama bestowed the National Medal of Arts award upon Tillis in 2012. He starred in several television movies and briefly had a network TV show, "Mel and Susan Together", with Susan Anton.

Mel Tillis

Tillis was raised in Pahokee, Florida, and developed his stutter as a child while being treated for malaria.

The heroic American joined the US Air Force to serve in the Korean War and was stationed in Okinawa, where he served the country by cooking and singing on Armed Forces Radio.

The Tillis family said they plan to announce funeral arrangements for Nashville and Florida soon.

In 2007, Tillis became a regular performer on the Grand Ole Opry country music show. His stutter became a trademark that Tillis mined for laughs, although it disappeared when he sang.

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