Country music legend Mel Tillis dead at 85

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

The country music world is reacting to the death of Mel Tillis, who passed away Sunday (Nov. 19) after a long illness.

Tillis, a father of six who endeared fans with his stammer and self-deprecating charm, recorded more than 60 albums, scored 35 top 10 singles, and saw 600 of his songs recorded by major artists during a career spanning six decades.

Tillis died at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida, after battling intestinal issues since 2016, said spokesman Don Murry Grubbs. The suspected cause of death was respiratory failure. After attending the University of Florida and dropping out, Tillis joined the U.S. Air Force and served in Okinawa, where his interest in music continued to burgeon and he performed on Armed Forces Radio with a country band.

Country Music Hall of Famer Mel Tillis, known for songs such as "I Ain't Never" and "Coca-Cola Cowboy", died early Sunday aged 85, his publicist confirmed.

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Country music stars Charlie Daniels, Crystal Gayle and Blake Shelton offered their condolences on Twitter. In 2007, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born in Tampa, Fla. on August 8, 1932. President Barack Obama bestowed the National Medal of Arts award upon Tillis in 2012.

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".

The singer was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in June of 2007 by his daughter, singer and songwriter Pam Tillis. He also made a TV appearance in an episode of "The Dukes of Hazzard" in the late '70s.

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