Mel Tillis, country music star known as 'Stutterin' Boy,' dead at 85

by Sophie Craig November 20, 2017, 1:52
Mel Tillis, country music star known as 'Stutterin' Boy,' dead at 85

Country music legend and Florida native Mel Tillis passed away on Sunday morning, according to his publicist.

Mel - best known for hits including I Ain't Never and Good Woman Blues - had reportedly been battling an intestinal issue since previous year. The cause of death is suspected respiratory failure.

Tillis, 85, died at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla.

Country music star Mel Tillis, pictured performing in 2015, received the National Medal of Arts in 2012 from then-president Barack Obama.

He had six children, including daughter Pam Tillis who became a country music star in her own right.

Born Lonnie Melvin Tillis in Tampa, Florida in 1932, Tillis caught malaria as a child, leaving him with a speech impediment for which he was mocked in his youth but which he embraced as an adult, incorporating it into his performances for comic effect.

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Known for iconic songs like "Coca-Cola Cowboy" and "I Ain't Never", Tillis is a Country Music Hall of Famer who was awarded "Entertainer of the Year" at the 1976 CMA Awards.

Among hits he wrote for others were "Detroit City" for Bobby Bare, and "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town", by Rogers and the First Edition.

Tillis also had something of an acting career, with small roles in a number of films such as "The Cannonball Run" and "Smokey and the Bandit II".

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

Tillis wrote more than 1,000 songs, with around 600 of those being recorded by major artists.

The heroic American joined the US Air Force to serve in the Korean War and was stationed in Okinawa, where he served the country by cooking and singing on Armed Forces Radio.


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