Sunday, November 19, 2017
– Long-time country star Mel Tillis, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, passed away early this morning in Ocala, Fla. at 85.
Tillis, who was also known for his stutter, battled intestinal issues since early 2016 and never fully recovered. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure.
Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born in Tampa, Fla. on Aug. 8, 1932. Throughout his 60-plus year career, the Grand Ole Opry member recorded more than 60 albums, had 35 Top Ten singles, 6 number 1 hits ("I Ain't Never," "Coca-Cola Cowboy," "Southern Rains," "Good Woman Blues," "Heart Healer" and "I Believe In You") and was named the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year.
Tillis wrote more than 1,000 songs, 600 of which have been recorded by major artists including Kenny Rogers ("Ruby, Don't You Take Your Love To Town"), George Strait ("Thoughts Of A Fool") and Ricky Skaggs ("Honey, Open That Door"). In February 2012, President Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts.
Tillis leaves behind six children (Pam Tillis, Connie Tillis, Cindy Shorey, Sonny Tillis, Carrie April Tillis and Hannah Puryear), six grandchildren, a great grandson, a sister (Linda Crosby) and brother (Richard Tillis), the mother of five of his children (Doris Tillis) and his longtime partner (Kathy DeMonaco).