Saturday, November 25, 2017
The Coca Cola Cowboy passes
He will probably be best remembered for his stutter, which developed during his childhood, a result of a bout with malaria. Although it saffected his speech, it never affected his singing.
Although Tillis charted on his own, he had more success early on, as a songwriter. He wrote the hits "I Ain't Never" for Webb Pierce, Bobby Bare’s "Detroit City", Patsy Cline’s “Strange”, Ricky Skaggs “Honey, Open That Door”; Jack Greene’s "Life Turned Her That Way", later covered by Ricky Van Shelton ; Charley Pride’s "The Snakes Crawl At Night" and wrote "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town", which was a launched Kenny Rogers career.
He also was a regular featured singer on The Porter Wagoner Show.
Tillis achieved his biggest success with MCA Records, with which he signed in 1976. It started with a pair of two No. 1 hits in 1976, "Good Woman Blues" and "Heart Healer". Thanks to this success, Tillis won the Country Music Association's most coveted award, Entertainer of the Year, and was also inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He achieved another No. 1 in 1978 with "I Believe In You" and then again in 1979 with "Coca-Cola Cowboy", which was was included in the Clint Eastwood movie Every Which Way but Loose, in which he also made a cameo appearance. He also appeared in other movies, including Love Revival, W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975), Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), The Cannonball Run (1981), and comedy westerns Uphill All the Way (1986),
He acquired a number of radio station radio stations in Texas and Alabama, converting them from Top 40 and rock formats to Country stations All of his stations were sold after a time for a healthy return.
The Grand Ole Opry inducted Mel Tillis on June 9, 2007. He was inducted into the Opry by his daughter Pam. Along with being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, it was announced on August 7 that year that Tillis, along with Ralph Emery and Vince Gill, were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Tillis had been unwell since January 2016 with various illnesses. On November 19, 2017, Tillis died of respiratory failure in Ocala, Florida, at the age of 85. He is survived by his six children including singer-songwriter Pam Tillis,
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