According to the Tennessean, Tillis died early Sunday morning at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla. after nearly two years of ill health stemming from a bout of diverticulitis, for which he received surgery. Tillis battled intestinal issues since early 2016 and never fully recovered. "There will never be another Mel Tillis!". Tillis has six children.
A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, Tillis recorded more than 60 albums and penned a string of hits for stars such as Kenny Rogers, George Strait and Ricky Skaggs.
"He once spent an entire day at his place in Tennessee showing me all the memorabilia he'd gathered over the years where he gave me a pair of his stage boots", Shelton's account said.
Tillis was a familiar screen presence in the '70s and '80s, with small roles in films including "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings", "The Villain", "Every Which Way But Loose", "Smokey and the Bandit II", and both "Cannonball Run" movies.
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He joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed as a baker in Okinawa, where he formed a band called the Westerners.
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), and his longtime partner (Kathy DeMonaco). Feeling down one day he began singing to himself, "Oh Lord, I'm exhausted". According to his website, his career launched in 1956 when Webb Pierce recorded a song written by Tillis.
He said that when he was in the Air Force as a flight leader, he marched airmen right into a wall. "The more I go onstage", he said, "and feel my independence and that power over audiences, the less I stutter".