Tillis dies at 85

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Tillis, 85, died at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure. He also wrote hit songs for other artists, including Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town for Kenny Rogers, Detroit City for Bobby Bare and Thoughts of a Fool for George Strait.

Tillis went on to be named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association in 1976 and later that year was welcomed into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

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Tillis was a prolific singer-songwriter who penned more than 1,000 songs and recorded more than 60 albums in a career that spanned six decades.

One of the most colorful personalities the music business has ever seen, the Country Music Hall of Fame member enjoyed success as a writer, actor, and performer, as well as a comedian during his storied career. Later that year, he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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He was awarded the National Medal of Arts for his contributions to country music by President Obama in 2012.

Tillis stuttered only when he spoke, not when he sang. Years later, he got his first No. 1 single with "I Ain't Never", and his "Coca Cola Cowboy" was featured in the Clint Eastwood film "Every Which Way but Loose". He dropped out of the University of Florida and instead served in the Air Force and worked on the railroad before relocating to Nashville in 1957. TV guest spots were frequent, including a debut acting appearance on "Love: American Style" in 1973, followed by shows like "The Dukes of Hazard", "The Tim Conway Show", and "The Love Boat".

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The Tillis family asks for your prayers and will soon release more information regarding funeral services in Florida and Nashville. "There's a big difference between a concert and a show". Mel Tillis always put on a show ... "You always felt good about being around him".

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