Country Music Hall of Famer, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and Grand Ole Opry member Mel Tillis died early Sunday morning at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida, according to a statement released by his publicist. Tillis battled intestinal issues since early 2016 and never fully recovered. Tillis was 85.

The Country Music Hall of Famer 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), his longtime partner (Kathy DeMonaco), and many lifelong friends and fans around the world.

Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born in Tampa, Florida on August 8, 1932. Throughout his 60+ year career, the Grand Ole Opry member recorded more than 60 albums, had 35 Top Ten singles, six #1 hits ("I Ain't Never," "Coca-Cola Cowboy," "Southern Rains," "Good Woman Blues," "Heart Healer," and "I Believe In You"), was named the Country Music Association's coveted Entertainer of the Year, and was elected a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

He wrote over 1,000 songs, 600 of which have been recorded by major artists including Kenny Rogers ("Ruby, Don't You Take Your Love To Town"), George Strait ("Thoughts Of A Fool"), and Ricky Skaggs ("Honey, Open That Door"). Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) named Tillis Songwriter of the Decade for two decades. In February of 2012 President Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts.

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