Conflicting reports flooded social media on Friday, January 15 that Mel Tillis was seriously ill following colon surgery. One of the first reports shared by Country Rebel stated that urgent prayers were needed and that Mel Tillis was in critical condition at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The report went on to say that the 83-year-old Tillis had surgery on Wednesday and that there were complications. Friends of Mel Tillis, including the Oak Ridge Boys and Tony Orlando, reportedly said Mel Tillis was in critical condition.
Later in the day, several reports were being updated that Mel Tillis was not in critical condition but was indeed still in the hospital and has a long way to go before he is released. Fox News shared that according to the Oak Ridge Boys, Mel Tillis was “very ill.” They were scheduled to perform with Tillis on the Country Music Cruise, which departed on Saturday from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There was a post on Tuesday from the Country Music Cruise official Facebook page that Mel Tillis had emergency surgery.
“Mel has had to have emergency colon surgery. We have been told that he is doing fine, but will need several weeks of recovery time. We wish him a full and speedy recovery and hope he can join us on a future cruise.”
Even though friends of Mel Tillis reported he was in critical condition and seriously ill, Tillis’ manager stated that the reports were exaggerated. The Tennessean reported that Mel Tillis’ rep, Don Murry Grubbs, confirmed that Tillis is recovering but said that the flood of online and social media reports indicating his condition was critical were overstated.
“Doctors said he’s doing fine and on the right track,” Grubbs said. “He’s awake and watching television.”
This is good news indeed, although it looks as though Mel Tillis still faces a lengthy recovery time. Fans flocked to Facebook and other social media platforms to convey their best wishes and to post that they were praying for the beloved country singer, songwriter, and actor.
Mel Tillis may be best known for his famous stutter, which he was left with after a bout of childhood malaria. He took it in stride and used it to his advantage, often incorporating the stutter into his jokes and later wrote his autobiography called Stutterin’ Boy. During the 1970s, his big sense of humor earned him the comedian of the Year award six times. In 1976, he took home the Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year Award and the following year was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry by his daughter Pam Tillis, who is a famous country music star in her own right.
As a songwriter, he wrote songs for a myriad of country stars such as Charley Pride, Brenda Lee, Ricky Skaggs, and Randy Travis. He wrote Kenny Rogers and the First Edition’s big hit called “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” On February 13, 2012, Mel Tillis was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama for his contributions to country music.
Mel had his own successful hits including “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” “Good Woman Blues,” “Heart Healer,” and “I Believe in You.” Tillis also appeared on both the small and large screen. In 1978, Mel co-hosted with model Susan Anton in Mel and Susan Together, which was a variety series on ABC. Mel Tillis also appeared in several movies such as The Cannonball Run, Uphill All the Way, and Smokey and the Bandit II.
Mel built the Will Rogers Theater in 1992 with partner Melvin Hall, and two years later, he built the Mel Tillis Theater in Branson, Missouri. Tillis performed thousands of shows there on a regular basis until 2002, when he sold it to the owner of the Hobby Lobby chain. The Mel Tillis Theater continues to be one of the most successful venues in Branson.
Were you aware that Mel Tillis had surgery? Leave your thoughts, comments, and best wishes for a speedy recovery below.
[Image via Mel Tillis/Facebook, cropped and resized]