Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Mel Tillis born 8 August 1932

Lonnie Melvin Tillis (August 8, 1932 – November 19, 2017) was an American country music singer and songwriter. Although he recorded songs since the late 1950s, his biggest success occurred in the 1970s, with a long list of Top 10 hits.

He was born Lonnie Melvin Tillis in Tampa, Florida. At a young age, a bout of malaria left Mel with a speech impediment, stuttering. His mother encouraged him to minimize his stutter with humour. He became a natural storyteller, learned the guitar and patterned his love of music after the greats of the day; Red Foley, Bob Wills, The Carter family, and others.

As a child, he learned guitar, and in high school studied both the violin and the drums. At the age of 16, he first performed publicly at a local talent show. Mel graduated from Pahokee High School with the goal of playing football for his beloved Florida Gators. 
He instead found himself serving as a baker in the Air Force, serving in Okinawa and fine tuning his talents with his first band, The Westerners, which played local clubs.

After exiting the Air Force in 1955, Tillis went to college and held odd jobs and worked as a fireman on the Atlantic Coast Line railroad before moving to Nashville to pursue music full-time.  He found little success as a writer or performer there and soon returned to Florida. The in 1956, he co-penned the song "I'm Tired" which became a hit for Webb Pierce and secured Tillis' place as a songwriter. This led to a job with the Cedarwood Publishing Company.


In 1958, he scored a Top 30 hit on the US Country Charts with his recorded version of "The Violet and the Rose" and followed this with "Wine" (1964), Who's Julie?" (1969) and "These Lonely  Hands of Mine" (1969). Additionally, he co-penned the Bobby Bare hit "Detroit City" (1963) and wrote the Kenny Rogers' song "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" (1967). At the end of the '60s, Tillis and his esteemed new backing band the Statesiders came into their own as performers; with two 1969 Top Ten hits, "These Lonely Hands of Mine" and "She'll Be Hanging Around Somewhere."

During the 1970s, he expanded his success with further hits which include "Heaven Everyday" (1970), "Commercial Affection" (1970), "Arms of a Fool" (1970) and "Take My Hand" (1971, a duet with Sherry Bryce). 
During the next several decades, his songs could be found in many movie soundtracks of which include "W.W. and the Dixie Danckings"(1975), "Every Which Way But Loose" (1978), "The Villain" (1979), "Smokey and the Bandit II" (1980) and "Cannonball Run" (1981)

Mr Tillis recorded more than 60 albums over his six-decade career, including six No. 1 hit singles. He is perhaps best known for 1970s hits such as “I Ain't Never", "Good Woman Blues", and "Coca-Cola Cowboy". In 1974, he hosted his own TV series. In 1976, he won the the Country Music Association’s most coveted prize: Entertainer of the Year.

Following his heyday in the 1970s, Tillis remained a songwriter in the 1980s, writing hits for Ricky Skaggs and Randy Travis. He also wrote his autobiography called Stutterin' Boy. (The title comes from Tillis' speech impediment.) Tillis appeared as the television commercial spokesman for the fast-food restaurant chain Whataburger during the 1980s. Tillis continued to record and have occasional hits through the decade, with his last top-10 hit coming in 1984 and his last top-40 country hit in 1988; like most country artists of the classic era, his recording career was dented by changes in the country music industry in the early 1990s. He also built a theatre in Branson, Missouri, where he performed on a regular basis until 2002.

The singer-songwriter also penned hundreds of songs that were covered by fellow stars like Kenny Rogers, George Strait, and Ricky Skaggs. The Grand Ole Opry inducted Mel Tillis on June 9, 2007. He was inducted into the Opry by his daughter Pam. Along with being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, it was announced on August 7 that year that Tillis, along with Ralph Emery and Vince Gill, were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Tillis remained active as a recording artist, as well as a performer and songwriter into the 2000s.. His daughter Pam Tillis became a successful Country music performer.

Mel had been ill since early 2016 when he underwent surgery for diverticulitis, in intestinal condition. He battled sepsis and never truly recovered, his publicist said. On November 19, 2017, Tillis died of respiratory failure in Ocala, Florida, at the age of 85.

(Compiled from numerous sources including Wikipedia, AllMusic and various obits.)


boppinbob said...


01 - Honky Tonk Song
02 - It Takes A Worried Man To Sing A Worried Blues
03 - Case Of The Blues
04 - It's My Life
05 - Juke Box Man
06 - If You'll Be My Love
07 - Take My Hand
08 - This Heart
09 - Teen Age Wedding
10 - Lonely Street
11 - The Violet And A Rose
12 - No Song To Sing
13 - The Brooklyn Bridge
14 - Finally
15 - Sawmill
16 - You Are The Reason
17 - Georgia Town Blues
18 - Till I Get Enough Of These Blues
19 - Loco Weed
20 - It's So Easy
21 - Walk On, Boy
22 - Say
23 - Hearts Of Stone
24 - That's Where The Hurt Comes In

A big thank you to Stampede @ Uncle Gil’s Rockin’ Archives for active link

AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett

Mel Tillis' infamous speech impediment never affected his singing, which remained smooth, polished, and emotionally nuanced throughout his career, and through his recordings and fine songwriting, his voice was one of the clearest to be found in country music in the '60s and '70s. This set collects some of his earliest tracks, cut for Kapp Records, an independent label started by David Kapp in 1954 (the label was sold to MCA in 1967, which kept the name, logo, and catalog going until 1972, when it was consolidated into MCA's other imprints), including Tillis' sharp version of "It Takes a Worried Man to Sing a Worried Song" (Tillis entitled it "It Takes a Worried Man to Sing a Worried Blues"), a pair of duets with Bill Phillips, "Sawmill" and "Georgia Town Blues," the classic self-penned "Honky Tonk Song," and the poignant "That's Where the Hurt Comes In," among others, and provides a nice portrait of this consistent performer in his early years.

Eddie said...

Would it be possible to re-up A Girl They Call Maria by Maria Cole? Love your blog!

boppinbob said...

Sorry Eddie but I never posted it.....all i had was a copy of the album cover, mind you I wouldn't mind a copy myself!