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Farewell to Mel Tillis: Country Music Icon & True Country Gentleman

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The country music industry has lost another great with the recent passing of singer Mel Tillis. The icon who transformed his stutter (what many would perceive as an impediment) into an entertaining and engaging part of his performing, passed away at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida, early on Sunday, November 19, at the age of 85.

Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born on August 8, 1932, in Tampa, Florida. He had a career in country music that spanned decades and included the recording of 60 albums, six number ones, and 35 singles that ranked in the top ten of the charts. Hits such as “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” and “I Ain’t Never” brought him international fame, and the industry recognized him with the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award in 1976. He wrote more than 1,000 songs and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame that same year, and has since become an elected member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Farewell to Mel Tillis: Country Music Icon & True Country Gentleman

Photo: Facebook/iCoroRD

In 2007, Tillis was again honored by being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, and five years later (in 2012), he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. He was always known as a lighthearted man who could bring a smile to your face in a heartbeat. In the ‘60s, he was voted “Comedian of the Year” by Music City News readers, and in 2010 he released “You Ain’t Gonna Believe This,” a full collection of humorous stories from his career (as well as some tall tales) in a CD format. It went on to rave reviews and remained on the Billboard comedy chart for over a year following its release. His anecdotes were well-known amongst fellow performers, with Bill Anderson commenting in remembrance that Tillis once told him, “I had a handicap and turned it into an ass-ass-asset.”

Farewell to Mel Tillis: Country Music Icon & True Country Gentleman
Photo: Facebook/Hollywood History

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