Legendary country music star Mel Tillis dies at 85

Legendary country music star Mel Tillis dies at 85

Mel had written over 60 albums and had more than 10 top 10 singles during his 1970s hey day.

Country music legend Mel Tillis died early Sunday morning in a Florida hospital.

His daughter Pam Tillis, a country music singer-songwriter in her own right, is among the six children who survive him.

He also won the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year, and was inducted in Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

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. His ability to poke fun at himself on stage assured him a loyal following among country music fans.

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Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born in Tampa, Fla. on August 8, 1932. His stutter became a trademark that Tillis mined for laughs, although it disappeared when he sang. President Barack Obama bestowed the National Medal of Arts award upon Tillis in 2012.

He joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed as a baker in Okinawa, where he formed a band called the Westerners.

"Some of my most cherished memories are the times I spent with Mel Tillis", Shelton wrote on Twitter. Besides being a successful recording artist, Tillis performed at the Grand Ole Opry and made frequent television appearances, as well as playing small roles in movies such as Smokey and the Bandit II and The Cannonball Run.

Tillis was also an actor, and appeared in several feature films.

"Mel Tillis was a guy who had it all: He could write, he could sing and he could entertain an audience", said Grand Ole Opry announcer and WSM DJ Eddie Stubbs.

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