When speaking of a legend, Mel Tillis can truly hold his own. He is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and actor. Now, on June 9th, he added to these accomplishments by becoming the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Lonnie Melvine Tillis, has come along way since he was born in Pahokee Florida on August 8th, 1932. As a child he battled malaria, which resulted in a chronic stutter, which he is famous for now. After the stutter formed, Mel tried very hard to hide it, even taking speech classes, but the stutter never went away. He later learned how to use it to enhance his down-home persona. Mel attended the University of Florida, but dropped out and then went into the U.S. Air Force. Upon arriving in Nashville in 1957, a song Mel had written titled "I'm Tired," went all the way to No. 1. This was the start for quite a few lucky breaks for Mel. He later replaced a band member from the Duke of Paducah's band while they were having an operation. Despite his initial writing success, Mel also focused heavily on a singing career. Mel has stated that singing is like a "mechanical helper," that when speaking in a conversation, he stutters, but singing just comes out normal.
To this day, Mel has been one of most influencial songwriters in history. He has written songs for Webb Pierce, Bobby Bare and Kenny Rogers and The First Edition. Mel has written well over 1,000 songs, over 600 of which have been recorded by major stars. In 1999, BMI named him Artist of The Decade, 2 decades in a row. In 1976, Mel joined the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame. It was rare from the late 1950s-1980's that there was not a Mel Tillis song on the charts. Whether Mel wrote it or performed it, it was still his. Throughout these 3 decades, Mel toured an average of 250 shows a year. Starting in the late 1960's, Mel became more familiar with television audiences throughout the country. He appeared on The Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson, Hollywood Sqaures, Merv Griffin, and was a regular cast member of The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. Then in the summer of 1977, he went on to co-host Mel and Susan Together on ABC. After this, Mel started to extend into acting. He had roles in Smokey and the Bandit movies, as well as W.W. & The Dixie Dance Kings, and then a small part in the made for T.V. movie Murder in Music City.
Regardless of his fame, Mel has remained true to his roots and true to his fans. He continues to tour all over the U.S. and Canada. He also does numerous charity events including the recent Steinhatchee, Florida Fishing With Mel Tournament and Benefit Concert. Mel's daughter Pam Tillis, who is also a member of the Grand Ole Opry, recorded a tribute album to her father, called It's All Relative, containing songs that Mel had written. Mel Tillis has always been country, and country will always be Mel Tillis.
- Lets Go All The Way Tonight (1974, W/ Sherry Bryce)
- Are You The One (1974, W/ Sherry Bryce)
- Mr. Wright And Mrs Wrong ( 1975, W/ Sherry Bryce)
- Woman In The Back Of My Mind (1975)
- Good Woman Blues (1976)
- Love Revival (1977)
- Burning Memories (1977)
- I Got The Hoss ( 1977)
- I Believe In You (1978)
- Ain't No California (1978)
- Send Me Down To Tuscon (1979)
- Coca Cola Cowboy (1979)
- Me & Pepper (1979)
- Your Body Is An Outlaw (1980)
- W.W. & The Dixie Dance King (1979, With Burt Reynolds)
- Murder In Music City (1979)
- Smokey And The Bandit 2 (1980, With Burt Reynolds)
- Cannonball Run (1982)
- Cannonball Run 2 (1984)
- Uphill All The Way ( 1989, with Roy Clark)