Legendary country music star Mel Tillis dies at 85

Posted November 20, 2017

Tillis passed away on 19 November 2017 in Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida.

Tillis wrote hits for Kenny Rogers, Ricky Skaggs and many more. 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 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. "It's a way of showing people that it hasn't licked me, so it doesn't have to lick others".

More news: BJP, government cheer Moody's ratings upgrade

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

In 2007, Tillis' daughter Pam, who is also a country singer, inducted her father into the prestigious Grand Ole Opry. He starred in several television movies and briefly had a network TV show, "Mel and Susan Together", with Susan Anton. He developed a speech impediment after a childhood bout of malaria, the Tennessean reported. 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.

He joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed as a baker in Okinawa, where he formed a band called the Westerners. "Exhausted of living this ol' way". According to his website, his career launched in 1956 when Webb Pierce recorded a song written by Tillis.

More news: The NFL is not backing down from Jerry Jones' threats

"I couldn't get out the word 'halt, '" he said.

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

More news: WADA rules Russian Federation 'noncompliant'