Mel Tillis ‘Already Cracking Jokes’ After Heart Surgery

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Mel Tillis

Mel Tillis (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images for ACM)

Country legend Mel Tillis has undergone heart surgery. Luckily, the surgery appears to have been a success, and the 81-year-old artist is already recovering.

According to a post on his website, Tillis “had routine heart surgery this past weekend” and is “recovering very nicely.”

Mel’s daughter (and fellow country artist) Pam Tillis backed that up. “In typical Mel Tillis fashion, he’s already cutting up and cracking jokes with the nurses,” she said in press statement published in the Nashville Tennessean.

A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Tillis has had a long career as a singer, songwriter and storyteller. He was known for a stutter in his speech, which was often the focal point of his downhome comic persona, but his singing voice remained a smooth, clear baritone. His recording career dates back to the 1950s, though he really gained moment as an artist in the 1960s and ’70s, thanks to hits like “Stateside,” “Let Me Talk to You,” “Stomp Them Grapes” and “Coca Cola Cowboy.”

The 1972 smash “I Ain’t Never,” which Tillis cowrote with Webb Piece, was his first No. 1 hit.

Tillis also found success as a writer, penning songs that turned into big hits for artists such as Bobby Bare (“Detroit City”), Waylon Jennings (“Mental Revenge”) and Kenny Rogers (“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town”).

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