Country music singer Mel Tillis, whose six-decade career included hits such as “I Ain’t Never” and “Coca Cola Cowboy” and who never let his stutter get in the way of him becoming a legend, died on Sunday, his publicist confirmed. He was 85.
Tillis passed away at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla., his publicist Don Murry Grubbs said. The music legend is believed to have died from respiratory failure after he never recovered from intestinal issues he has been battling since 2016. He leaves behind his longtime partner, Kathy DeMonaco, his six children and six grandchildren.
Tillis recorded more than 60 albums and had 35 top ten singles in his decades-long career. His 1979 “Coca-Cola Cowboy” was one of his biggest hits, along with “Southern Rains” in 1980 and “I Believe in You” in 1978.
Tillis also appeared in television shows such as “Hee Haw” and “Hollywood Squares,” as well as movies, including “Smokey and the Bandit 2.” He also did commercial work for Wataburger, according to the Tennessean.
Soon after the news of his death became public, singers, music lovers and various other entertainment industry stars took to Twitter to convey their condolences at the passing away of a legend.
Crystal Gayle sent out love and prayers to the bereaved family.
— Crystal Gayle (@TheCrystalGayle) November 19, 2017
Blake Shelton also tweeted her sorrow at learning of Mel Tillis’s death.
What a truly devastating loss. I loved Mel. I will miss him terribly. My thoughts and prayers to all his family.
— Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) November 19, 2017