Nashville, Tenn. (November 19, 2017) - Following a lengthy struggle to regain his health, country music legend Mel Tillis passed away early this morning at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida.
In his later years, Tillis was known more for his songwriting than his own recording - 600 of his songs have been recorded by major artists ranging from Kenny Rogers to George Strait to Ricky Skaggs.
His commercial peak came in the 1970s when he had a string of top 10 hits, including "Good Woman Blues", "Heart Healer" and "Coca Cola Cowboy".
In 1976, Tillis won the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year award and was inducted in the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame.
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. "It's a way of showing people that it hasn't licked me, so it doesn't have to lick others".
Tillis was born in Tampa on August 8, 1932, according to his biography on the Country Music Hall of Fame website.
Tillis moved to Nashville from Plant City, Florida after serving in the U.S. Air Force as a baker.
He also dabbled in acting, appearing in such feature films as Clint Eastwood's "Every Which Way But Loose", and the Burt Reynolds movies "Cannonball Run I and II" and "Smokey and the Bandit II".
Tillis got his musical start in the 1950s performing with an Air Force band while stationed in Okinawa. Mel Tillis always put on a show....
"I'm just so thankful, for everything", he said when he was inducted. Four years later, he received the National Medal of Arts for his contributions to country music during a White House ceremony. "Please take a moment and visit Official Mel Tillis and let them know how you felt about this south Florida poet that was a master songwriter, brilliant comedian and beloved father".