Mel Tillis, country music star known as 'Stutterin' Boy,' dead at 85

Country music legend dead: Mel Tillis dies at 85 following health battle

Country Music Hall of Famer, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and Grand Ole Opry member Mel Tillis died early Sunday morning, The Tennessean reports.

Tillis passed away on 19 November 2017 in 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. Later that year, he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

He also appeared in films such as "Cannonball Run" and "Smokey and the Bandit".

Additionally, Tillis had other hits such as Stateside, I Got the Hoss, Send Me Down to Tucson, Neon Rose, Sawmill and Midnight, Me and the Blues.

In 2012, then-President Barack Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts. He starred in several television movies and briefly had a network TV show, "Mel and Susan Together", with Susan Anton.

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In 2007, Tillis' daughter Pam, who is also a country singer, inducted her father into the prestigious Grand Ole Opry. "It's been a long, hard road".

The heroic American joined the US Air Force to serve in the Korean War and was stationed in Okinawa, where he served the country by cooking and singing on Armed Forces Radio.

He held a variety of odd jobs before breaking out, including being a truck driver, a strawberry picker, a firefighter on the railroad and milkman, which inspired his breakthrough song.

His career took off in 1956 after Webb Pierce recorded "I'm exhausted", which Tillis wrote. His stutter became a trademark that Tillis mined for laughs, although it disappeared when he sang.

"I'm just so thankful, for everything", he said when he was inducted.

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