Country Singer Mel Tillis Dead At 85

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Country music star Mel Tillis has died at the age of 85.

The Country Music Hall of Famer passed away on Nov. 18 at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Florida, reports CNN.

According to a statement from his publicist, doctors suspect he died from respiratory failure after battling intestinal issues since 2016.

In Jan. 2016, Tillis was hospitalized with diverticulitis and later underwent colon surgery, reports the Daily Mail.

Tillis left behind his longtime partner Kathy DeMonaco and six children; songwriter Mel (Sonny) Tillis Jr., singer-songwriter Pam Tillis, Carrie April Tillis, Connie Tillis, Cindy Tillis and Hannah Tillis.

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In January the singer underwent surgery and treatment for a digestive disease.

Grubbs, said at the time that Tillis was hospitalized in Nashville in 2016 with diverticulitis and later underwent colon surgery.

Tillis recorded more than 60 albums and wrote more than 1,000 songs in his 60-year career.

He boasted numerous Top Ten singles and six #1 hits, including "I Ain't Never," "Coca-Cola Cowboy, and "Good Woman Blues". Tillis also wrote hits for artists, including Kenny Rogers and Randy Travis.

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Tillis was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in October 2007, only a few months after joining the Grand Ole Opry.

Nearly five years later, President Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts in February 2012 -- - the highest honor given to artists by the US government.

In addition to music, Tillis also acted. He had small roles in movies such as "Every Which Way But Loose" with Clint Eastwood and the "Bandit II" with Burt Reynolds.

Fellow country music stars and fans alike took to social media to express their grief.

"Some of my most cherished memories are the times I spent with Mel Tillis," tweeted Blake Shelton. "Many many great memories. From fishing, to just having a beer, to him crashing my concert!"

"You were a kind and gentle soul Mel," wrote one fan under the Daily Mail's comments section. "I will always have your memories and thank you for your music. You will be missed by so many people and Country Music. RIP My prayers go to your family at this time."

Even Governor Mike Huckabee penned a brief social media tribute to the star.

"Sad news—Mel Tillis died," he wrote on Twitter.  "More than just a country star he was an authentic gentleman. He leaves a legacy of great music and a great daughter the lovely and talented Pam Tillis."

Sources: CNN, Absolute PublicityGov. Mike Huckabee/Twitter, Blake Shelton/Twitter , Daily Mail /Featured Image: Presidencia de la Republica Mexicana/Flickr /Embedded Images: Cliff/Flickr, Chris Engelsma /Wikimedia Commons

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