Lonnie Melvin "Mel" Tillis (born August 8, 1932) is 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.
Tillis's biggest hits include "I Ain't Never", "Good Woman Blues", and "Coca-Cola Cowboy". On February 13, 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts for his contributions to country music. He also has won the CMA Awards' most coveted award, Entertainer of the Year. He is also known for his speech impediment, which does not affect his singing voice. His daughter is country music singer Pam Tillis.
Things turned around in 1969 for Tillis. He finally achieved the success he always wanted with two Top 10 country hits, "These Lonely Hands of Mine" and "She'll Be Hanging Around Somewhere." In 1970, he reached the Top 5 with "Heart Over Mind," which peaked at No. 3 on the Hot Country Songs list. After this, Tillis's career as a country singer went into full swing. Hits soon came quite easily, such as "Heaven Everyday" (1970), "Commercial Affection" (1970), "Arms of a Fool" (1970), "Take My Hand" (a duet with Sherry Bryce in 1971), and "Brand New Mister Me" (1971). In 1972, Tillis achieved his first chart-topper with his version of his song "I Ain't Never." Even though the song was previously a hit by Webb Pierce, Tillis's version is the better-known version of the two. Most of the above-mentioned song hits were recorded on MGM Records, Tillis's record company in the early part of the decade.
After the success of "I Ain't Never," Tillis had another hit, which came close to No. 1 (reaching No. 3), entitled "Neon Rose," followed by "Sawmill," which reached No. 2. "Midnight, Me and the Blues" was another near chart-topper in 1974. Other hits Tillis had on MGM include "Stomp Them Grapes" (1974), "Memory Maker" (1974), "Woman in the Back of My Mind" (1975), and his version of "Mental Revenge" (1976). Tillis achieved his biggest success with MCA Records, with which he signed in 1976. It started with a pair of two No. 1 hits in 1976, "Good Woman Blues" and "Heart Healer". (In an interview, he mentioned having written five hits in one week.) Thanks to this success, in 1976 Tillis won the CMA Awards's most coveted award, Entertainer of the Year, and was also inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame that year. He achieved another No. 1 in 1978 with "I Believe In You" and then again in 1979 with "Coca-Cola Cowboy," which was put in the Clint Eastwood movie Every Which Way but Loose, in which he also made a cameo appearance. Also in 1978, Mel co-hosted a short-lived variety series on ABC television, Mel and Susan Together with model Susan Anton. Other hits around this time included "Send Me Down to Tucson," "Ain't No California," and "I Got the Hoss." In mid-1979, Tillis switched to another record company, Elektra Records...
Quotes by Mel Tillis
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