Mel Tillis, country music legend, dies at 85

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

Blake Shelton Mourns Mel Tillis: 'I Will Miss Him Terribly'

Country music Hall of Famer Mel Tillis died Sunday at the age of 85 in Florida, his publicist said.

In January the singer underwent surgery and treatment for a digestive disease.

Born Lonnie Melvin Tillis on August 8, 1932, "Mel" gained fame in the 1970s with a string of successful hits.

"He transcended country music", Louis said.

His hits included "I Ain't Never", "Heart Healer" and "Coca-Cola Cowboy". 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. But he may have been best known for his stutter, which did not interfere with his singing.

Country music legend dead: Mel Tillis dies at 85 following health battle
Mel Tillis dead: Country music legend and Coca-Cola Cowboy star dies aged 85

Mel Tillis performs during the Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert, benefiting victims of the May tornadoes, at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., Saturday, July 6, 2013.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in October 2007, just four months after joining the Grand Ole Opry. While in the military, he formed a band called the Westerners and played local clubs while stationed in Okinawa, Japan, during the Korean War.

In 1956, country superstar Webb Pierce recorded "I'm exhausted", which Tillis penned with Ray Price and Buck Peddy.

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

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