Legendary singer and songwriter Mel Tillis is currently “on the road to recovery” from colon surgery, his Nashville-based rep confirmed to Rolling Stone Country Friday afternoon.
Speculation about the 83-year-old’s health began to circulate after fellow entertainer Tony Orlando tweeted Wednesday evening that singer Johnny Lee had “informed us that our friend Mel Tillis is in critical condition….please pray.” Tillis’s publicist confirmed that Tillis had undergone surgery but that his condition was not critical.
Tillis was scheduled to take part in the Country Music Cruise, which sails this weekend, but organizers of the weeklong event announced on Tuesday (January 12th) that he had undergone surgery and would need several weeks to recover. Fellow Country Music Hall of Fame member Bobby Bare will fill in for Tillis on the cruise.
In addition to his four decades of hits as a recording artist, including such Number One singles as “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” “Good Woman Blues” and “Heart Healer,” Tillis has penned such iconic tunes as “I Ain’t Never,” “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” and “Detroit City.” He is the father of country hitmaker (and fellow Opry member) Pam Tillis.