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Mel Tillis, Singer-Songwriter and Country Music Hall of Famer, Dies at 85

Mel Tillis, Singer-Songwriter and Country Music Hall of Famer, Dies at 85

Mel Tillis, country music singer and songwriter, has died, the Country Music Hall of Fame confirmed in a statement. He was 85.

According to the Tennessean, Tillis died early Sunday morning at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla. after almost two years of ill health stemming from a bout of diverticulitis, for which he received surgery. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure.

Tillis began recording in the late 1950s and continued to perform through 2015, but remained best known for a string of No. 1 country hits in the late ’70s, along with a succession of appearances in Hollywood movies alongside Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood that helped make him a household name even outside the country music sphere.

β€œMel Tillis spent a lifetime giving us joy and laughter and music, which is why his death brings such sadness,” said Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young. β€œHad he never stepped on a stage, he would still have been one of the funniest and most genuine people on the planet.”

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