Sunday 19 November 2017

Country Music Legend Mel Tillis passes aged 85


Nashville, Tenn. (November 19, 2017) — Following a lengthy struggle to regain his health, country music legend Mel Tillis passed away early this morning at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida. Tillis battled intestinal issues since early 2016 and never fully recovered. 
The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure. Tillis was 85.

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.

The Tillis family asks for your prayers and will soon release more information regarding funeral services in Florida and Nashville.

Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born in Tampa, Florida on August 8, 1932.

Throughout his 60+ year career, the Grand Ole Opry member recorded more than 60 albums, had 35 Top Ten singles, six #1 hits ("I Ain't Never" (1972), "Coca-Cola Cowboy"(1979), "Southern Rains" (1980), "Good Woman Blues" (1976), "Heart Healer" (1976; >> Audio) and "I Believe In You" (1978)).

He was named the Country Music Association's coveted Entertainer of the Year in 1976, and was elected a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

CMA Nominations:       
Song of the Year           1967 All The Time (Mel Tillis and Wayne Walker)
Vocal Duo of the Year    1975 Mel Tillis and Sherry Bryce
Entertainer of the Year   1976    
Vocal Duo of the Year    1976 Mel Tillis and Sherry Bryce
Entertainer of the Year   1978 * CATEGORY WINNER * 
Vocal Event of the Year 1999 Old Dogs (Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis, Bobby Bare & Jerry Reed)

He wrote 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"). Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) named Tillis Songwriter of the Decade for two decades. In February of 2012 President Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts.

Top 20 Country Albums
LET ME TALK TO YOU (Kapp Records; released January 1968) #17
I AIN'T NEVER (MGM Records; released October 1972) #18
SAWMILL (MGM Records; released Aug 1973) #3         
LOVE REVIVAL (MCA Records; released 1976) #14
HEART HEALER (MCA Records; released 1977) #6      
LOVE'S TROUBLED WATERS (MCA Records; released 1977) #15                    
I BELIEVE IN YOU (MCA Records; released 1978) #14  
ARE YOU SINCERE MCA Records; released 1979) #17

First published in Country Music People, April 1982:

Alan Cackett: Mel Tillis: Part One - M-M-M-Mel: Entertainer With The Genuine Country Beat  (Part 1) & Part 2

“I’ve lost a brother. Mel was the very first person I met when I came to Nashville in the late ‘50s and we’ve been friends ever since. I’ve lost another fishing buddy and a talented, talented brother. Without Mel and ‘Detroit City,’ I probably would not have had a career. Mel’s one of those people you’ve got to love.” - Bobby Bare, fellow Country Music Hall of Fame member and bandmate of Tillis' in "Old Dogs" with Jerry Reed and Waylon Jennings. Mel Tillis co-wrote Bare's smash-hit "Detroit City."

"Mel was a special friend, great artist, and constant inspiration to me—Heaven’s choir just got sweeter." - Randy Travis, fellow Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry member

“Hall of Fame entertainer and songwriter — he was all in one, a great combination. He is one of our biggest heroes.” - Randy Owen of ALABAMA, fellow Country Music Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame member

"Mel Tillis, you will be missed by so many of us you touched over the years. Rest in peace my friend." - Charlie Daniels, fellow Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry member

"All I could think of when I heard the news of Mel’s passing was 'one of the brightest lights in country music went out last night.' He left an amazing legacy with his songs, but I will always remember his humor more than anything else. It’s sad to think there will be no more ‘Mel Tillis stories.’ - Jeannie Seely, fellow Grand Ole Opry member

“It's a sad day in country music but even sadder for the family and those of us who loved the late, great Mel Tillis. His life was the stage and making people laugh for years. He was truly one of the kindest men in the business to me. He was great friends with my dad and my uncle Bill and he's treated me like a daughter. My heart breaks for the future of the Tillis family while they heal. It's a hole that will never be filled for them. God bless Mel Tillis and the Tillis family.” - Lorrie Morgan, fellow Grand Ole Opry member

“Mel was a great entertainer who inspired me so much. I am deeply saddened. What a great friend he was to me. I just thought the world of him. We will miss him dearly. His great songs will be with us forever. God Bless his family.” - Moe Bandy

"I first met Mel when I played with him on Bobby Bare and Friends in ‘85. He was a true country gentleman, a giant songwriter and an icon." - Max T. Barnes

"We always loved working with Mel. He was one of the kindest, funniest persons we were ever around! We still laugh about the stories he would tell, hanging out after a show - one of the memorable people in our career." - Marlon Hargis of Exile

"I was honored to be Mel's friend! He took me under his wing a long time ago and for that I will be forever grateful. The world has lost a truly talented man. His music and hilarious stories will live on forever. Rest in peace my friend, I'll see you on the other side.” - Johnny Lee

"Mel Tillis was one of the first people I met in Nashville and he was always so kind to me. We certainly have lost a giant in our music family." - Lee Roy Parnell

"We lost a treasure today! Mel Tillis will always be an American original, he was humble, kind, gracious and funny. His stories were amazing -- thank you, Mel, for showing me how it’s done. Be as cool off stage as you are on stage. Rest in Peace my friend." - Tim Rushlow

"Thank you to Mel Tillis for the years of songs, stories and music; what an amazing legacy." - Paul Bogart

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