Mel Tillis Biography
Last updated: 09/14/2011 12:00:00 PM
"It seems like just yesterday that I left Florida head'n for Nashville, Tennessee in my '49 Mercury with a busted windshield, a pregnant wife and $29.00 in my pocket. 2002 marks my 46th year in the music business. If I lost it all tomorrow, I guess I could say it only cost me $29.00 and it's been one heck of a ride!"
Facts about... Mel Tillis
Country music legend, Mel Tillis, started performing in the early ‘50’s with a group called The Westerners while serving as a baker in the United States Air Force, stationed in Okinawa. In 1956, Webb Pierce recorded a song written by Mel entitled “I’m Tired”, and it launched Mel’s musical career.
Awards: In 1976, Mel Tillis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters International Hall of Fame, and that same year, he was named Country Music Association’s (CMA) Entertainer of the Year. Also, for six years in the 70’s, Mel Tillis won Comedian of the Year.
On September 21, 1999, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) named Mel Tillis the Songwriter of the Decade for two decades.
Most recently, Mel was the recipient of the Golden Voice Entertainer Award for 2001. He also won the 2001 Golden R.O.P.E. Songwriter Award
Songwriting: Mel has written well over 1,000 songs, and approximately 600 have been recorded by major artists. The following is a list of a few of those songs and artists:
"Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town" - Kenny Rogers
"Detroit City" ----------------------- Bobby Bare
"Emotions" --------------------------- Brenda Lee
"I Ain’t Never" ---------------------- Webb Pierce
"Burning Memories" ------------------- Ray Price
"Thoughts of a Fool" ----------------- George Strait
"Honey (Open That Door)" ------------- Ricky Skaggs
In June 2001, Mel received a Special Citation of Achievement from BMI for 3 Million broadcast performances of “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town”. Songs which have reached this coveted status are in a very select group of world-wide favorites.
Singer/Entertainer: Mel has recorded more than 60 albums. He has had thirty-six Top Ten singles, with nine of them going to Number One - “Good Woman Blues,” “Coca Cola Cowboy,” and “Southern Rain” to mention a few.
In 1993, he recorded his first gospel album. This album is entitled “Beyond the Sunset”.
One of Mel’s recent recordings is the “Old Dogs” album with Bobby Bare, Waylon Jennings, and Jerry Reed. It was released in July of 1998, and received a nomination for the 1999 Vocal Event of the Year by the Country Music Association.
Mel Tillis has been in the music/entertainment business now for over 45 years. He and his band, the Statesiders, have worked concerts all over the 50 states, Canada, England, and other countries.
He has appeared on such television shows as 20/20, The Tonight Show, The 700 Club, Prime Time Country, 60 Minutes, Crook & Chase, David Letterman, and he has served as host for Music City News Awards and Music City Tonight.
Acting: Mel has appeared in numerous feature films including “Every Which Way But Loose” with Clint Eastwood, “W.W. & The Dixie Dancekings,” “Cannonball Run I and II,” “Smokey and the Bandit II with Burt Reynolds, and the lead role with Roy Clark in “Uphill All The Way.”
He has starred in several television movies as well including “Murder in Music City” and “A Country Christmas Carol.”
Mel Tillis has also been the spokesman for and done numerous commercials over his career for companies such as Badcock Furniture, Fina Oil Co., Whataburger, and currently for National Hearing Centers.
Mel’s Hobbies: Gardening, cooking, fishing, painting, and watching University of Florida ball games.
One of Mel’s hobbies – painting – has turned into a charitable event. 1000 limited edition signed and numbered prints of his painting “Masonic America” are being sold with all profits going to the Scottish Rite Foundation which benefits speech and hearing clinics all over this great nation.
Mel was the 1998 spokesman and honorary chairman for the Stuttering Foundation of America.
Mel was raised to a 33° Mason at the House of the Temple in Washington, D.C., in 1998. On October 11, 1999, Mel was honored with the Grand Cross.