Mel Tillis

Induction Year: 1976

Birth Name: Lonnie Melvin Tillis

Birth Date: 08-08-1932

Place of Birth: Tampa, Florida

Death Date: 11-19-2017

Place of Death: Ocala, Florida

One of country music's funniest and most affable entertainers, Mel Tillis is also the author of emotionally devastating classics including "Detroit City" and "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)." Though fans know Tillis for his welcoming stage presence, his hits as a recording artist, his motion picture appearances and his chronic stutter (one that doesn't affect his singing), some listeners are unaware of his stature as a songwriter of depth and consequence.

Tillis' songs have been a part of the country music landscape since the late 1950s and have been covered by Webb Pierce, Ray Price, Brenda Lee, Bobby Bare, Waylon Jennings, Kenny Rogers and many others. He is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, and he has won a CMA Entertainer of the Year prize in addition to two BMI Songwriter of the Decade awards.

Tillis was raised in Florida. A bout with childhood malaria caused his stutter. Fresh out of the Air Force, while working for the Atlantic Coastline Railroad, Tillis went to see a Ray Price concert, met Price and showed him a song he'd written called "I'm Tired." Price was interested enough in the song to take it with him to Nashville, and in 1957 Webb Pierce had a #1 country hit with "I'm Tired." Tillis moved to Nashville that same year.

It was the mid-1960s before Tillis had a Top 20 country record as a singer, but others found great successes with his songs. His grandest success came with Bare's bracing 1963 version of "Detroit City," a song that didn't top country charts but that went on to become a Grammy-winning million-seller. "Detroit City" kick-started Bare's career and captivated fans who related to the song's displaced narrator's plea: "I want to go home/Oh Lord, I want to go home."

"Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)" became another indelible Tillis song after Kenny Rogers & the First Edition's 1969 version. And though the subject matter involved a crippled American veteran, "Ruby" resonated across the ocean, becoming a #1 hit in England.

In the 1970s, Tillis became a major country star in his own right. He also appeared in numerous movies and was heavily involved in publishing. He is also the proud father of singer-songwriter and country star Pam Tillis. Mel Tillis stands as a true country music renaissance man, and as the writer of some of the finest Nashville songs ever written.

"A Thousand Miles Ago"

(written with Webb Pierce)

Webb Pierce1959 #6 country

"All the Time"

(written with Wayne P. Walker)

Kitty Wells1959 #18 country
Jack Greene1967 #1 country

"Burning Memories"

(written with Wayne P. Walker)

Ray Price1964 #2 country
Mel Tillis1977 #9 country

"Crazy Wild Desire"

(written with Webb Pierce)

Webb Pierce1962 #8 country

"Detroit City"

(written with Danny Dill)

Billy Grammer1963 #18 country
Bobby Bare1963 #6 country, #4 adult contemporary, #16 pop
Tom Jones1967 #27 pop
Dean Martin1970 #36 adult contemporary


(written with Ramsey Kearney)

Brenda Lee1961 #7 pop

"Heart Over Mind"

Ray Price1961 #5 country
Mel Tillis1970 #3 country

"Honey (Open That Door)"

Ricky Skaggs1984 #1 country

"Honky Tonk Song"

(written with A. R. "Buck" Peddy)

Webb Pierce1957 #1 country

"I Ain't Never"

(written with Webb Pierce)

Webb Pierce1959 #2 country, #24 pop
Mel Tillis1972 #1 country

"I'm Tired"

(written with A. R. " Buck" Peddy, Ray Price)

Webb Pierce1957 #3 country
Ricky Skaggs1987 #18 country

"Mary, Don't You Weep"

(written with Marijohn Wilkin)

Stonewall Jackson1959 #12 country

"Memory Maker"

(written with Kent Westberry)

Mel Tillis1974 #3 country

"Mental Revenge"

Johnny Darrell1967 
Waylon Jennings1967 #12 country
Mel Tillis1976 #15 country
Linda Ronstadt1970 

"No Love Have I"

Webb Pierce1959 #4 country, #54 pop
Gail Davies1978 #26 country
Holly Dunn1992 #67 country
Pam Tillis2002 

"One More Time"

Ray Price1960 #2 country

"Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town"

Johnny Darrell1967 #9 country
Kenny Rogers & the First Edition1969 #6 pop, #6 adult contemporary, #39 country


(written with Horace Whatley)

Mel Tillis1973 #2 country

"Thoughts of a Fool"

(written with Wayne P. Walker)

Ernest Tubb1961 
George Strait1992 

Mel Tillis

Induction Year: 1976