Country Music Legend Mel Tillis Passes

Country music legend dead: Mel Tillis dies at 85 following health battle

Country Music Legend Mel Tillis Passes | Absolute Publicity

Mel Tillis, a Country Music Hall of Fame artist known for his lifelong struggle with stuttering, died Sunday in Florida at age 85. He also wrote hit songs for other artists, including Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town for Kenny Rogers, Detroit City for Bobby Bare and Thoughts of a Fool for George Strait.

In 2007, Tillis' daughter Pam, who is also a country singer, inducted her father into the prestigious Grand Ole Opry.

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.

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He was awarded the National Medal of Arts for his contributions to country music by President Obama in 2012.

During the height of his career, Tillis hosted a short-lived ABC variety show with model Susan Anton and made cameo appearances in several popular movies, including The Cannonball Run, Cannonball Run II, Smokey and the Bandit II and Every Which Way But Loose, which featured Coca-Cola Cowboy on its soundtrack. "It's been a long, hard road". He developed the stutter as a child after a bout with malaria.

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. Feeling down one day he began singing to himself, "Oh Lord, I'm exhausted".

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His first big hit as a songwriter was "I'm exhausted", which was recorded that same year by Webb Pierce, who went on to record several more of Tillis's compositions.

Tillis, meanwhile, became a major success on his own in the late 1960s and toured for decades, often using his stutter as a source of humour - though his stutter disappeared when he sang.

"I'm just so thankful, for everything", he said when he was inducted.

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Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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