Sunday morning, November 19, country music legend Mel Tillis died at Muroe Reginoal Medical Center in Ocala, Florida, according to a statement.
The singer had been battling poor health since 2016. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure.
The Country Music Hall of Famer leaves behind six children (Pam Tillis, Connie Tillis, Cindy Shorey, Sonny Tillis, Carrie April Tillis, and Hannah Puryear), six grandchildren, a great grandson, a sister (Linda Crosby) and brother (Richard Tillis), the mother of five of his children (Doris Tillis), and his longtime partner (Kathy DeMonaco).
Throughout the singer’s 60 plus year career, the Grand Ole Opry member recorded more than 60 albums, had 35 Top Ten singles, scorred six #1 hits (“I Ain’t Never,” “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” “Southern Rains,” “Good Woman Blues,” “Heart Healer,” and “I Believe In You”).
Tillis, who famously stuttered when he spoke, but never when he sang, was named the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year.
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”).
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.
In February of 2012 President Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts.
Country singers are responding with their own sentiments.
Blake Shelton wrote, “Some of my most cherished memories are the times I spent with Mel Tillis. Many many great memories. From fishing, to just having a beer, to him crashing my concert!”
From Tim McGraw, “Man, one of the coolest guys in country music ever and an extraordinary songwriter! So glad I got a chance to hang out with him a bit early in my career. Thinking about his family…”
Crystal Gayle posted, “I’m saddened to hear of the passing of my friend, Mel Tillis. Sending my love and prayers to his family and friends. There will never be another Mel Tillis!”
Tony Orlando shared his thought, “Rest In Peace, my friend Mel Tillis. The Orlando family lost a great friend, and the world lost a great man.”
The list goes on.
What do you have to say to the family of Mel Tillis?