Legendary country star MEL TILLIS passed away yesterday. He was 85. He’d been in poor health since having major surgery last year. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure.
Mel was a Country Music Hall of Fame singer and songwriter, as well as an actor and comedian. He was known for his stutter, which became a trademark. He even tited his autobiography “Stutterin’ Boy”.
Mel was a pretty big star in the ’70s and ’80s . . . doing movies like “Cannonball Run”, “W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings”, and “Smokey and the Bandit 2” . . . and appearing on TV shows like “Dukes of Hazzard”, and “The Love Boat”.
More than anything, Mel was country singer. He first hit the charts in 1958, but it took a while for him to start dominating. That also happened in the 1970s with songs like “I Ain’t Never”, “Coca Cola Cowboy”, and “Good Woman Blues”.
He recorded over 60 albums, and had 36 Top 10 singles. He also wrote over 1,000 songs, including the Kenny Rogers classic, “Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love to Town)“.
His daughter Pam Tillis is also a country singer. In a statement on Facebook she wrote that she’s “deeply saddened” by his loss. And it didn’t take long yesterday before others started paying tribute. Here are a few:
Blake Shelton: “What a truly devastating loss. I loved Mel. I will miss him terribly.”
Tim McGraw: “One of the coolest guys in country, and an extraordinary songwriter.”
Billy Ray Cyrus: “Kindest man I’ve ever known.”