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

Tomas Mccoy
November 20, 2017

Mel Tillis, country music singer and songwriter, has died, the Country Music Hall of Fame confirmed in a statement.

His other No. 1 hits were "I Ain't Never" in 1972, "Good Woman Blues" in 1976, "Heart Healer" in 1976, "I Believe in You" in 1978.

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 suspected cause of death was respiratory failure.

During the height of his career, Tillis hosted a short-lived ABC variety show with model Susan Anton and made cameo appearances in several popular movies, including The Cannonball Run, Cannonball Run II, Smokey and the Bandit II and Every Which Way But Loose, which featured Coca-Cola Cowboy on its soundtrack. Mel Tillis always put on a show ...

"You know what? Another part of the dream has been fulfilled", he said at the time. He developed a speech impediment after a childhood bout of malaria, the Tennessean reported. He started performing in the early 50s with a group called The Westerners.

He held a variety of odd jobs before breaking out, including being a truck driver, a strawberry picker, a firefighter on the railroad and milkman, which inspired his breakthrough song.


His career took off in 1956 after Webb Pierce recorded "I'm exhausted", which Tillis wrote.

Price, Skaggs, Brenda Lee and hundreds of others would cover his songs.

"One of the reasons I worked it into my show is that it's my trademark", he once told The Associated Press.

"I couldn't get out the word 'halt, '" he said.

The Tillis family said they plan to announce funeral arrangements for Nashville and Florida soon.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER