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

Sipa USA

Country music star Mel Tillis has tragically passed away at the age of 85.

A spokesperson for Mel Tillis says he died early Sunday morning in Florida. The suspected cause of death was respiratory failure.

In his later years, Tillis was known more for his songwriting than his own recording - 600 of his songs have been recorded by major artists ranging from Kenny Rogers to George Strait to Ricky Skaggs.

Under his own name, he cut six singles that topped the country charts, including "I Ain't Never", "Coca-Cola Cowboy" and "Southern Rains".

Country music stars Charlie Daniels, Crystal Gayle and Blake Shelton offered their condolences on Twitter.

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Tillis was a familiar screen presence in the '70s and '80s, with small roles in films including "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings", "The Villain", "Every Which Way But Loose", "Smokey and the Bandit II", and both "Cannonball Run" movies.

"He once spent an entire day at his place in Tennessee showing me all the memorabilia he'd gathered over the years where he gave me a pair of his stage boots", Shelton's account said. In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts. He also briefly co-hosted an ABC prime-time series, "Mel and Susan Together", with supermodel Susan Anton in 1978.

Tillis was born in Tampa on August 8, 1932, according to his biography on the Country Music Hall of Fame website. "It's been a long, hard road". "Exhausted of living this ol' way".

The Tillis family asks for your prayers and will soon release more information regarding funeral services in Florida and Nashville. Tillis eventually moved to Nashville and began writing songs full-time, most notably for Webb Pierce. His stutter became a trademark that Tillis mined for laughs, although it disappeared when he sang.

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