On Sunday, music lost another legend when country music star Mel Tillis passed away at the age of 85, according to a statement from his publicist. The Country Music Hall of Fame member had been ill for some time before reportedly dying of respiratory failure in Ocala, Florida.
"Following a lengthy struggle to regain his health, country music legend Mel Tillis passed away early this morning at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida," read the statement. "Tillis battled intestinal issues since early 2016 and never fully recovered. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure."
Tillis, who was born Lonnie Melvin Tillis, was known for overcoming a serious speech impediment to record more than 60 albums in a career that spanned over six decades. He became a prominent figure in the entertainment industry in the 1970s when he penned hits like "Cola-Cola Cowboy," "Good Woman Blues," and "Heart Healer."
The singer wrote more than 1,000 songs, including hits for other country music stars such as George Strait and Kenny Rogers. He also appeared in a number of television shows and a few films like Smokey and the Bandit II and Every Which Way but Loose alongside Clint Eastwood.
Priror to getting his big break in Nashville, Tennesse, Tillis enlisted in the US Air Force to serve in the Korean War.
In February 2012, Barack Obama awarded him with the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor given to any artist by the United States government.
As soon as the news about his death broke, many celebrities took to social media to express their condolences and pay tribute to the legendary singer-songwriter.