Sunday morning, November 19, country music legend Mel Tillis died at Muroe Reginoal Medical Center in Ocala, Florida, according to a statement.
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.
The singer-songwriter's publicist Don Murry Grubbs confirmed the tragic news, with his suspected cause of death believed to be respiratory failure.
After earning his first charting country single with "The Violet and a Rose", Tillis established himself as a songwriter with hits like "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)", "Mental Revenge" and Peggy Lee's "Emotions".
Country music icon Mel Tillis has died at age 85.
In his six-decade career, the singer recorded more than 60 albums, had three dozen Top 10 singles and wrote several hit songs that are now regarded as classics, the Tennessean reported.
Tillis was raised in Pahokee, Florida, and developed his stutter as a child while being treated for malaria.
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.
8, 1932, in Tampa, Tillis went on to become a prolific artist and a Country Music Hall of Famer. He joined the US Air Force to serve in the Korean War and was stationed in Okinawa, where he spent his time cooking and singing on Armed Forces Radio.
"I was so bashful and scared", he said in 2002 of his hesitancy about speaking in public, "and she said, 'If they laugh they'll be laughing with you, not against you'". Four years later, he received the National Medal of Arts for his contributions to country music during a White House ceremony.
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