Mel Tillis: Amazing 60 year career

Funeral set for much-loved singer/songwriter

Mel Tillis. Photo: Wikipedia

Mel Tillis, a true country star with one of the longest careers as both a recording artist and a songwriter, passed away on Sunday, November 19. He was 85. Funeral arrangements have now been announced.

Visitation will be held on Monday, November 27 from 11 AM to 2 PM at Sykes Funeral Home (424 Franklin St.) in Clarksville, Tennessee. A public funeral service will begin promptly at 3 PM at Mount Hermon Baptist Church (2204 Jarrell Ridge Rd.) with a private burial to follow.

A preceding service will take place at the Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church in Silver Springs, Florida this Saturday, November 25 at 3:00 PM.Out of respect for the family, attendees are asked to refrain from photographing, filming, or live streaming either service.

Public memorial service planned for January

Additionally, the Tillis family is planning a January public memorial service open to fans and the music industry. The event will be held in Nashville with details to be announced in the coming weeks.

Following a lengthy struggle to regain his health, country music legend Mel Tillis passed away at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida. Tillis battled intestinal issues since early 2016 and never fully recovered. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure. Tillis was 85.

When Mel met my dad

Mel Tillis. Photo: meltillis.com

I have fond personal memories of Mel, whom I met several times over the years. One day, I took my father backstage at one of Mel’s shows and I told Mel that this was the best dad in the world as he had saved my life by donating a kidney to me. “Well,” said Mel, “I just have to meet the best dad in the world!”  He graciously visited with my dad for several minutes and dad has always remembered that meeting.

Born Lonnie Melvin Tillis in Tampa, Florida on August 8, 1932, Mel enjoyed a 60+ year career.

The Grand Ole Opry member recorded more than 60 albums, had 35 Top Ten singles, six #1 hits (“I Ain’t Never,” “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” “Southern Rains,” “Good Woman Blues,” “Heart Healer,” and “I Believe In You”), was named CMA (Country Music Association) Entertainer of the Year in 1976, and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame the same year.

Mel Tillis wrote 1,000+ songs

Mel was elected a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007. He wrote over 1,000 songs, 600 of which have been recorded by major artists including Kenny Rogers (“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town”), George Strait (“Thoughts Of A Fool”), and Ricky Skaggs (“Honey, Open That Door”). Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) named Tillis Songwriter of the Decade for two decades. In February of 2012 President Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts. He is survived by his six children, including singer/songwriter Pam Tillis and songwriter Mel ‘Sonny’ Tillis, Jr.

“Mel Tillis was a guy who had it all: He could write, he could sing and he could entertain an audience, there’s a big difference between a concert and a show. Mel Tillis always put on a show….You always felt good about being around him.”

  • Eddie Stubbs, Grand Ole Opry announcer and WSM DJ

“Mel Tillis spent a lifetime giving us joy and laughter and music, which is why his death brings such sadness.”

  • Kyle Young, CEO Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

 

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