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. Respiratory failure is the suspected cause of death. Many of those songs were recorded by other country music stars such as Kenny Rogers, George Strait and Ricky Skaggs. He was also recognized by President Barack Obama in 2012, receiving the National Medal of Arts for his country music contributions.
Born Lonnie Melvin Tillis in Tampa, Florida, he suffered a spell of malaria as a boy that left him with a chronic stutter, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
He joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed as a baker in Okinawa, where he formed a band called the Westerners. In 2007, Tillis was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame. Tillis eventually moved to Nashville and began writing songs full-time, most notably for Webb Pierce. 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.
Mel Tillis Dead - Country Star Passes Away at 85
The singer, who wrote Detroit City and Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town), passed away on Sunday following a health battle.
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".
Our thoughts are with Mel's loved ones during this time.
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