Legendary country music vocalist, songwriter, and former Branson performer Mel Tillis has passed away at 85, according to his publicist.
(ABC News) – Mel Tillis, the affable longtime country music star who wrote hits for Kenny Rogers, Ricky Skaggs and many others, and overcame a stutter to sing on dozens of his own singles, has died.
A spokesman for Tillis, Don Murry Grubbs, said Tillis died early Sunday at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida. He was 85.
Grubbs said Tillis battled intestinal issues since 2016 and never fully recovered. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure.
Tillis, the father of country singer Pam Tillis, recorded more than 60 albums and had more than 30 top 10 country singles, including “Good Woman Blues,” ”Coca Cola Cowboy” and “Southern Rain.”
Among the hits he wrote for others were “Detroit City” for Bobby Bare; “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” by Rogers and the First Edition; and “Thoughts of a Fool” for George Strait.
Bare was a bandmate of Tillis’ in Old Dogs, along with Waylon Jennings and Jerry Reed. Bare said in a statement that he had been friends with Tillis since the late 1950’s, when they met in Nashville.
“I’ve lost another fishing buddy and a talented, talented brother,” Bare said. “Without Mel and ‘Detroit City,’ I probably would not have had a career.”