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

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

The paper reports that he died at a hospital in Ocala, FL. The suspected cause of death was respiratory failure, he said.

On Sunday morning Tillis' fellow country music stars and fans praised his contributions to the genre and offered condolences on Twitter. He also went to No. 1 in 1980 with "Southern Rains". Over the course of his long career, he wrote more than 1,000 songs, recorded more than 60 albums, had almost three dozen top-10 singles, and pegged six No. 1 hits, including "Coca-Cola Cowboy", "I Ain't Never", and "I Believe in You". "It's a way of showing people that it hasn't licked me, so it doesn't have to lick others".

During the 1960s, Tillis' songs charted for several artists, with hits like "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)", "Mental Revenge" and "Detroit City", becoming classics, the Tennessean reported.

Tillis found a way to turn his speech impediment into an asset by using his ready smile and innate comedic timing to get his audiences to laugh along with him. Tillis has six children. It disrupted his speaking, but did not affect his ability to sing.

Musical from an early age, he started performing in the early 1950s with a group called The Westerners, while stationed in Okinawa and serving as a baker in the Air Force.

His career took off in 1956 after Webb Pierce recorded "I'm exhausted", which Tillis wrote.

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

"Tillis" mainstream success lasted about a decade.

As a recording artist, Tillis scored during the 1970s with two dozen Top 10 hits.

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.

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".

He had six children, including daughter Pam Tillis who became a country music star in her own right.

UCLA basketball players arrested in China are headed home
The players were not allowed to play in the game after they were arrested or return to the United States with the team. "Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump?" he tweeted .

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