The biggest stars in country music are remembering Mel Tillis this weekend, after the Country Music Hall-of-Famer passed away early Sunday at the age of 85.
For Blake Shelton, it took a series of four tweets to begin to describe his affection for the singer, songwriter, comedian and actor. The star of The Voice recalled how Mel had advised him during difficult times, and even gifted him with a pair of his boots after a day spent together.
Tim McGraw shared a similar tale of spending time with him early in his career. Fellow Floridian Michael Ray marked Mel’s passing as well, while Tanya Tucker recalled starring in an episode of The Love Boat with the legend.
Here’s how members of the country music family reacted to the death of Mel Tillis, both on social media and through their publicists:
Blake Shelton: “Some of my most cherished memories are the times I spent with Mel Tillis. Many many great memories. From fishing, to just having a beer, to him crashing my concert! He once spent an entire day at his place in Tennessee showing me all the memorabilia he’d gathered over the years where he gave me a pair of his stage boots. He even took time to talk me through some hard times in my life on a couple phone calls. He did his best to try and keep my head on straight. I looked up to Mel more than he could’ve possibly known. A talented songwriter. An incredible entertainer. And a funny funny guy. It has been a couple years since I saw him last. I deeply regret that now. What a truly devastating loss. I loved Mel. I will miss him terribly. My thoughts and prayers to all his family.”
Tim McGraw: “Man, one of the coolest guys in country music ever and an extraordinary songwriter! So glad I got a chance to hang out with him a bit early in my career. Thinking about his family…”
Rascal Flatts: “What an incredible loss for the country music world. Mel Tillis will be greatly missed.”
Michael Ray: “Sad day in country music. You will be missed Mel Tillis thank you for your time and your music.”
Chris Janson: “Heartbreaking news. RIP. prayers to your family”
Crystal Gayle: “I’m saddened to hear of the passing of my friend, Mel Tillis. Sending my love and prayers to his family and friends. There will never be another Mel Tillis!”
Charlie Daniels: “Mel Tillis, you will be missed by so many of us you touched over the years. Rest in peace my friend.”
CMA: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Mel Tillis. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”
Grand Ole Opry: “Thank you, Mel Tillis, for the songs, stories, and years of incredible entertainment. Our thoughts are with all of your loved ones.”
Billy Ray Cyrus: “Kindest man I’ve ever known. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Gonna be some great country music in Heaven this Sunday.”
Tanya Tucker: “My heart is just broken over the passing of the great Mel Tillis. I have so many wonderful memories with him. I’ll never forget working with him on Love Boat with Dottie West. We just go way back – from the time I was 8 years old when he brought me on stage with him. When I got older, sometimes I had to use other bands because I didn’t have a band. Mel always let me use his band and I’ll never forget that. We remained friends right up until the end. Love you, Mel.”
Naomi Judd: “There are stand-up comedians and then there’s Mel Tillis. His hilarious misadventures out on the road are legendary. Just ask Mac Davis or Ray Stevens. I also know Mel as my friend. Upbeat guy who admirably turned his stuttering into an asset and educated everyone on how to overcome stereotypes. There will never be anyone else like Mel Tillis.”
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