Mel Tillis, a country music singer and songwriter who rose to fame in the 1960s, charting multiple top forty hits despite a lifelong stuttering problem, has died in Florida at the age of 85, Billboard and other sources are reporting.
In a press release from Absolute Publicity, Tillis' publicist Don Murry Grubbs confirmed that Tillis died at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida after battling an intestinal issue since 2016. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure.
Country music star Mel Tillis, pictured performing in 2015, received the National Medal of Arts in 2012 from then-president Barack Obama. "There will never be another Mel Tillis!".
Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born in Tampa, Fla. on August 8, 1932.
Some of the music legend's biggest songs included I Ain't Never, Good Woman Blues, and Coca-Cola Cowboy. He was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry - a pantheon for country music stars - and a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee.
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What do you have to say to the family of Mel Tillis?
Among hits he wrote for others were "Detroit City" for Bobby Bare, and "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town", by Rogers and the First Edition.
He also dabbled in acting, appearing in such feature films as Clint Eastwood's "Every Which Way But Loose", and the Burt Reynolds movies "Cannonball Run I and II" and "Smokey and the Bandit II".
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 most prominent latter-day cover of a Tillis song came when Robert Plant and Alison Krauss recorded "Stick With Me Baby" for their T Bone Burnett-produced "Raising Sand", which won a 2007 Grammy for Album of the Year.