Country music legend Mel Tillis dies at 85

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The late Mel Tillis, who passed away early Sunday morning (Nov. 19), had an indelible effect on country music - and one modern country star in particular.

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

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 2007, his daughter, singer Pam Tillis, inducted him into the Grand Ole Opry and later that year was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. According to a statement made by his publicist, the musician battled intestinal issues and reportedly suffered respiratory failure.

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".

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

Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born in Tampa, Fla. on August 8, 1932. Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) named Tillis Songwriter of the Decade for two decades. He developed a speech impediment after a childhood bout of malaria, the Tennessean reported.

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. Mel Tillis always put on a show....

Shortly after leaving the Air Force in 1956, Tillis wrote I'm exhausted, which became a No. 3 hit for Webb Pierce and helped launch Tillis' career. It wasn't a commercial success, but the group was nominated for vocal event of the year by the Country Music Association. "The more I go onstage", he said, "and feel my independence and that power over audiences, the less I stutter". He received the National Medal of Arts in 2012 from Former President Barack Obama and is a CMA Entertainer of the Year. His family plans to announce funeral arrangements in Nashville and Florida soon.

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