Mel Tillis, country music star and Hall of Famer dead at 85

By Wade Sheridan  |  Nov. 20, 2017 at 8:46 AM
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Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Country music singer, songwriter and Hall of Famer Mel Tillis has died at the age of 85.

Tillis died Sunday at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla. The music legend had been battling intestinal issues since 2016 and died from respiratory failure.

Tillis' career spanned six decades and included more than 1,000 songs, more than 60 albums and a number of hit songs from throughout the '70s including "Good Woman Blues," "Heart Healer" and "Coca Cola Cowboy," CNN reported.

The country star won the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year award and was inducted in the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1976. In 2007, Tillis was inducted into the Grand Old Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. President Barack Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts in 2012.

Tillis has also appeared in small guest roles in a number of films such as W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, The Villain, Every Which Way But Loose, Smokey and the Bandit II, and both Cannonball Run movies. Television shows he appeared in included Mel and Susan Together, Love: American Style, The Dukes of Hazard, The Tim Conway Show and The Love Boat.

"Mel Tillis spent a lifetime giving us joy and laughter and music, which is why his death brings such sadness," said Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young in a statement. "Had he never stepped on a stage, he would still have been one of the funniest and most genuine people on the planet."

"But his whimsy and warmth were only a part of his appeal. He wrote some of country music's most compelling and consequential songs, he fronted a remarkable band, and he sang with power and emotion. He also shone as an inspiration, revealing what others called an impediment as a vehicle for humor and hope," he continued.

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