Country Music Hall of Famer Mel Tillis dies at 85

Mel Tillis Country Music Hall of Famer

Country music star Mel Tillis has tragically passed away at the age of 85. According to a statement made by his publicist, the musician battled intestinal issues and reportedly suffered respiratory failure.

As a songwriter he knocked out over 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").

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

Tillis was also a regular personality on the big and small screens, appearing on TV shows like Hee Haw and Hollywood Squares and in films such as The Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit 2. "It's a way of showing people that it hasn't licked me, so it doesn't have to lick others". He received the National Medal of Arts in 2012 from Former President Barack Obama and is a CMA Entertainer of the Year. He also briefly co-hosted an ABC prime-time series, "Mel and Susan Together", with supermodel Susan Anton in 1978.

His daughter is country music singer Pam Tillis.

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Tillis moved to Nashville from Plant City, Florida after serving in the U.S. Air Force as a baker.

Tillis got his musical start in the 1950s performing with an Air Force band while stationed in Okinawa.

He held a variety of odd jobs before breaking out, including being a truck driver, a strawberry picker, a firefighter on the railroad and milkman, which inspired his breakthrough song. He turned his lament into "I'm exhausted", which became a hit for Webb Pierce. His stutter became a trademark that Tillis mined for laughs, although it disappeared when he sang.

The Tillis family asks for your prayers and will soon release more information regarding funeral services in Florida and Nashville.

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