Country music has experienced so many heartbreaking losses in 2017, but last week reminded us that the year isn’t over as we bid a final farewell to one of the most lovable and gifted artists in the format—Mel Tillis.
Fortunately, thanks to the fine folks at the Grand Ole Opry, we can get one more listen to the voice that struggled when he spoke but was silky goodness when he sang.
The Opry has just shared a video of the Florida native’s last performance on its sacred stage in 2015. Singing his 1971 hit “The Arms of a Fool,” the legendary country star is debonair in a dark traje vaquero suit. In by God true traditional country style, Mel is flanked by triple fiddles and steel guitar. Longtime Opry fans will recognize that one of those fellas sawing on a fiddle is longtime host and announcer Eddie Stubbs.
Mel passed away on Nov. 19 at the age of 85 from respiratory failure. Although he was known as much for his stutter when he spoke, his career spanned well over 50 years and produced such memorable hits as “I Ain’t Never,” “I Believe in You,” and Coca Cola Cowboy.” He was also a remarkable friend to the next generation of country stars.
He is survived by six children, including singer-songwriter Pam Tillis and songwriter Mel “Sonny” Tillis Jr.