MEL TILLIS: Dead at 85

Country Music Hall of Famer Mel Tillis died early today (Sunday) in Ocala, Florida after a long illness. The singer best known for such hits as "I Ain't Never," "Coca-Cola Cowboy" and "Good Woman Blues" was 85.

Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born on August 8th, 1932 in Tampa, Florida and raised in Pahokee, near West Palm Beach. As a child, he contracted malaria which resulted in the stutter which became a trademark. However, his speech impediment didn't affect his singing. 

He recorded more than 60 albums and had 35 Top 10 hits, including six number-one singles. 

Tillis was crowned the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year in 1976. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2007, more than 50 years into his country music career. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007. 

In recent years, Mel had suffered from intestinal problems, but it's suspected that he died of respiratory failure.

He leaves behind six children, including country star Pam Tills, and six grandchildren. He also leaves ex-wife Doris Tillis and longtime partner Kathy DeMonaco. 

Funeral services will take place in Florida and Nashville. 

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