Country Music Hall of Famer Mel Tillis dies at 85

Longtime country music star, Mel Tillis has died. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure, according to a press release from his publicist. He wrote over 1,000 songs, 600 of which have been recorded by major artists including Kenny Rogers ("Ruby, Don't You Take Your Love To Town"), George Strait ("Thoughts Of A Fool"), and Ricky Skaggs ("Honey, Open That Door"). He overcame a stutter to sing on dozens of his own singles, such as "Good Woman Blues", "Coca Cola Cowboy" and "Southern Rain".

Tillis was a prolific singer-songwriter who penned more than 1,000 songs and recorded more than 60 albums in a career that spanned six decades. He developed a speech impediment after a childhood bout of malaria, the Tennessean reported.

"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.

One of the most colorful personalities the music business has ever seen, the Country Music Hall of Fame member enjoyed success as a writer, actor, and performer, as well as a comedian during his storied career.

On Sunday morning Tillis' fellow country music stars and fans praised his contributions to the genre and offered condolences on Twitter.

Tillis moved to Nashville from Plant City, Florida after serving in the U.S. Air Force as a baker. Mel Tillis always put on a show ...

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.

"I'm just so thankful, for everything", he said when he was inducted.

What do you have to say to the family of Mel Tillis?

In February 2012 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts - the highest honor given to artists by the United States government - by President Barack Obama.

  • Gwendolyn Kim