Lonnie Melvin Tillis (August 8, 1932 – November 19, 2017) was an American country music singer and songwriter. He penned more than 1,000 songs and recorded more than 60 albums in a career that spanned six decades. Many of those songs were recorded by other country music stars such as Kenny Rogers, George Strait and Ricky Skaggs.
Although he recorded songs since the late 1950s, his commercial peak came in the 1970s when he had a string of top 10 hits, including “Good Woman Blues,” “Heart Healer” and “Coca Cola Cowboy.”
Before making his way to Nashville, Tennessee, the singer/songwriter briefly attended the University of Florida. He joined the US Air Force to serve in the Korean War and was stationed in Okinawa, where he spent his time cooking and singing on Armed Forces Radio.
Born in Tampa, Florida, he suffered a spell of malaria as a boy that left him with a chronic stutter, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame. His stutter became a trademark that Tillis mined for laughs, although it disappeared when he sang.
In an interview with People Magazine in 1976, Tillis said performing helped him overcome his stutter. “The more I go onstage,” he said, “and feel my independence and that power over audiences, the less I stutter.” In 1998, he became spokesman and honorary chairman of the Stuttering Foundation of America.
Tillis also had something of an acting career, with small roles in a number of films such as “The
Cannonball Run” and “Smokey and the Bandit II.” He also made a TV appearance in an episode of “The Dukes of Hazzard” in the late ’70s.
In 2007, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Good Woman Blues