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Longtime country singer, songwriter Mel Tillis dies

20 November 2017, 02:21 | Jermaine Blake

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

Mel Tillis arriving at the ceremony for the 2013 inductions into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville Tenn

His No. 1 songs were I Ain't Never, Good Woman Blues, Heart Healer, I Believe in You, Coca-Cola Cowboy and Southern Rains. In 1976, he was named the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year.

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.

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. He did commercials for Whataburger, a fast-food restaurant chain, the Tennessean reported.

Born Lonnie Melvin Tillis on August 8, 1932, "Mel" gained fame in the 1970s with a string of successful hits.

Tillis was raised in Pahokee, Florida, and developed his stutter as a child while being treated for malaria.

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"He once spent an entire day at his place in Tennessee showing me all the memorabilia he'd gathered over the years where he gave me a pair of his stage boots", Shelton's account said.

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), his longtime partner (Kathy DeMonaco), and many lifelong friends and fans around the world.

From Tim McGraw, "Man, one of the coolest guys in country music ever and an extraordinary songwriter!"

"I'm just so thankful, for everything", he said when he was inducted. He received his award in February 2012 during a White House ceremony.



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