NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A look at reaction from the country music world on Mel Tillis, who died Sunday at age 85.
Blake Shelton, on Twitter:
— He did his best to try and keep my head on straight. I looked up to Mel more than he could’ve possibly known. A talented songwriter. An incredible entertainer. And a funny funny guy. It has been a couple years since I saw him last. I deeply regret that now.
— He once spent an entire day at his place in Tennessee showing me all the memorabilia he’d gathered over the years where he gave me a pair of his stage boots. He even took time to talk me through some hard times in my life on a couple phone calls.
— Some of my most cherished memories are the times I spent with Mel Tillis. Many many great memories. From fishing, to just having a beer, to him crashing my concert!
Kyle Young, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO, in a statement:
— 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 humour and hope.
Crystal Gayle, on Twitter:
— I’m saddened to hear of the passing of my friend, Mel Tillis. Sending my love and prayers to his family and friends. There will never be another Mel Tillis!
John Rich, on Twitter:
— Mel Tillis and I became laughin buddies many years ago! He was truly one of a kind, and it was a real privilege to call him my friend.
Charlie Daniels, on Twitter:
— Mel Tillis, you will be missed by so many of us you touched over the years. Rest in peace my friend.
Tanya Tucker, in a statement:
—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.
Naomi Judd, in a statement:
—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.
Gene Watson, in a statement:
—Mel was a true country legend. A singer, a songwriter and entertainer. Like Ray Price, Mel was a forerunner in bringing a big band to country with 3 fiddles. As big as he was, he made time to come visit when I was in the studio. When I was in Branson, he would often drop by. I recorded Mel’s song “Burning Memories.” He was just a genuine nice guy and we will all miss him dearly.