Following a lengthy illness, country singer Mel Tillis has died. He was 85 years old. A press release reports that Tillis died on Sunday morning (Nov. 19) at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla., the city in which he was living. It is suspected that he died of respiratory failure. Lonnie Melvin Tillis, widely known as Mel, was born Aug. 8, 1932 in Dover, Fla. He learned drums and guitar as a child, and showed promise at age 16 when he won a local talent show.