Country Community Reacts To Passing Of Mel Tillis

Mel Tillis

The country community is responding to the death of legend Mel Tillis with an outpouring of love and fond memories. Tillis passed away Sunday, Nov. 19 at a hospital in Ocala, FL at age 85.

“Mel Tillis spent a lifetime giving us joy and laughter and music, which is why his death brings such sadness. Had he never stepped on a stage, he would still have been one of the funniest and most genuine people on the planet. But his whimsy and warmth were only a part of his appeal. He wrote some of country music’s most compelling and consequential songs, he fronted a remarkable band, and he sang with power and emotion. He also shone as an inspiration, revealing what others called an impediment as a vehicle for humor and hope.  – Kyle Young, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO

“Kindest man I’ve ever known. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Gonna be some great country music in Heaven this Sunday.” —Billy Ray Cyrus

“My heart is just broken over the passing of the great Mel Tillis. I have so many wonderful memories with him. I’ll never forget working with him on ‘Love Boat’ with Dottie West. We just go way back – from the time I was 8 years old when he brought me on stage with him. When I got older, sometimes I had to use other bands because I didn’t have a band. Mel always let me use his band and I’ll never forget that. We remained friends right up until the end. Love you, Mel.”
Tanya Tucker

“There are stand-up comedians and then there’s Mel Tillis. His hilarious misadventures out on the road are legendary. Just ask Mac Davis or Ray Stevens. I also know Mel as my friend. Upbeat guy who admirably turned his stuttering into an asset and educated everyone on how to overcome stereotypes. There will never be anyone else like Mel Tillis.” —Naomi Judd

Photo: Courtesy Bellamy Brothers

“I’ve lost a brother. Mel was the very first person I met when I came to Nashville in the late ‘50s and we’ve been friends ever since. I’ve lost another fishing buddy and a talented, talented brother. Without Mel and ‘Detroit City,’ I probably would not have had a career. Mel’s one of those people you’ve got to love.” – Bobby Bare, bandmate of Tillis’ in “Old Dogs” with Jerry Reed and Waylon Jennings. Mel Tillis co-wrote Bare’s smash-hit “Detroit City.”

“Mel was a special friend, great artist, and constant inspiration to me—Heaven’s choir just got sweeter.” – Randy Travis

“Hall of Fame entertainer and songwriter — he was all in one, a great combination. He is one of our biggest heroes.” – Randy Owen of ALABAMA

“Mel Tillis, you will be missed by so many of us you touched over the years. Rest in peace my friend.” – Charlie Daniels

“All I could think of when I heard the news of Mel’s passing was ‘one of the brightest lights in country music went out last night.’ He left an amazing legacy with his songs, but I will always remember his humor more than anything else. It’s sad to think there will be no more ‘Mel Tillis stories.’ – Jeannie Seely

Photo: Courtesy Naomi Judd

“It’s a sad day in country music but even sadder for the family and those of us who loved the late, great Mel Tillis. His life was the stage and making people laugh for years. He was truly one of the kindest men in the business to me. He was great friends with my dad and my uncle Bill and he’s treated me like a daughter. My heart breaks for the future of the Tillis family while they heal. It’s a hole that will never be filled for them. God bless Mel Tillis and the Tillis family.” – Lorrie Morgan

“I was honored to be Mel’s friend! He took me under his wing a long time ago and for that I will be forever grateful. The world has lost a truly talented man. His music and hilarious stories will live on forever. Rest in peace my friend, I’ll see you on the other side.” – Johnny Lee

“We’re so sad to hear about the passing of Mel Tillis, but we feel so fortunate to have known him. Prayers and condolences to all of his family.” —Bellamy Brothers

“Mel Tillis was one of the first people I met in Nashville and he was always so kind to me. We certainly have lost a giant in our music family.” – Lee Roy Parnell

Photo: Courtesy Tanya Tucker

Other artists offered condolences to the family via social media.

Comments

Powered by Facebook Comments

Follow MusicRow on Twitter

Category: Artist, Featured

About the Author

Hollabaugh, a staff writer at MusicRow magazine, has over 20 years of music business experience and has written for publications including American Profile, CMA Close Up, Nashville Arts And Entertainment, The Boot and Country Weekly. She has a Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication degree from Texas Christian University, (go Horned Frogs), and welcomes your feedback or story ideas at [email protected]

View Author Profile