Mel Tillis, country music star known as 'Stutterin' Boy,' dead at 85

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

According to the Tennessean, Tillis died early Sunday morning at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla. after nearly two years of ill health stemming from a bout of diverticulitis, for which he received surgery. Respiratory failure was the suspected cause, but the singer had suffered from intestinal issues since early 2016.

Some of the music legend's biggest songs included I Ain't Never, Good Woman Blues, and Coca-Cola Cowboy.

Country music star Mel Tillis, pictured performing in 2015, received the National Medal of Arts in 2012 from then-president Barack Obama.

Tillis leaves behind six children (Pam Tillis, Connie Tillis, Cindy Shorey, Sonny Tillis, Carrie April Tillis and Hannah Puryear), six grandchildren, a great grandson, a sister (Linda Crosby) and brother (Richard Tillis), the mother of five of his children (Doris Tillis) and his longtime partner (Kathy DeMonaco).

Country singers are responding with their own sentiments. Besides being a successful recording artist, Tillis performed at the Grand Ole Opry and made frequent television appearances, as well as playing small roles in movies such as Smokey and the Bandit II and The Cannonball Run. 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. "From fishing, to just having a beer, to him crashing my concert!"

He even entitled his 1984 autobiography, "Stutterin' Boy", a nickname conferred on him early in his career.

Among the tributes online, Crystal Gayle tweeted: "I'm saddened to hear of the passing of my friend, Mel Tillis".

"Mel Tillis was a guy who had it all: He could write, he could sing and he could entertain an audience", said Grand Ole Opry announcer and WSM DJ Eddie Stubbs.

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