Country music singer Mel Tillis, whose six-decade career included hits such as “I Ain’t Never” and “Coca Cola Cowboy” and who never let his stutter get in the way of him becoming a legend, died on Sunday, his publicist confirmed. He was 85.
Mel Tillis, as famed for his recording career and songwriting as he was for his lifelong stutter, died early Sunday morning at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida, following a lengthy illness.
A representative confirmed the singer’s death, citing respiratory failure as the suspected cause. He was 85.
As a songwriter, he was known for hits that included the Bobby Bare single “Detroit City,” Webb Pierce’s “I’m Tired” and the 1969 crossover tune for Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” As a recording artist and performer, the affable Tillis was the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year in 1976, a mainstream country-music superstar at a time when the genre was dominated by pop-leaning country and the burgeoning outlaw movement.
Daughter and country singer-songwriter Pam Tillis’ Facebook page posted that her father’s death was sudden and unexpected, and asked fans to post their memories on Mel Tillis’ official Facebook page.
The singer, songwriter, comedian, and businessman, whose genuine warmth and down-home humor drew countless fans.
In his six-decade career, he recorded over 60 albums, notched three dozen Top 10 singles and wrote over 1,000 songs, several of which are now regarded as classics.
He was awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts in 2012.
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