Country music legend Mel Tillis dead at 85

Country music star Mel Tillis has passed away aged 85.

The Country Music Hall of Famer died at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida early Sunday according to his publicist Don Murry Grubbs.

The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure.

Sad news: Country music star Mel Tillis passed away aged 85 early Sunday

The singer songwriter recorded more than 60 albums throughout his career and notched three dozen top 10 singles despite a stutter that didn’t affect his singing voice.

Some of his biggest hits included I Ain’t Never, Good Woman Blues, and Coca-Cola Cowboy. 

Tillis’ speech impediment developed after a childhood bout of malaria and while he was teased when he was young he later used it to comedic effect on stage and screen.

He also penned hits for artists, including Kenny Rogers and Randy Travis. 

He started performing in the early 1950s with a group called The Westerners while serving as a baker in the United States Air Force, stationed in Okinawa, Japan. 

The Grand Ole Opry inducted Tillis as its newest member on June 9, 2007.

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.