The Country Music Hall of Fame confirmed Sunday that country singer and songwriter Mel Tillis died at the age of 85 due to respiratory failure.

Tillis had also been suffering from a prolonged case of diverticulitis, a digestive tract infection, and had even received surgery for his condition.

“Mel Tillis spent a lifetime giving us joy and laughter and music, which is why his death brings such sadness,” Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young said in a statement, Variety reported. “Had he never stepped on a stage, he would still have been one of the funniest and most genuine people on the planet.”

“But his whimsy and warmth were only a part of his appeal. He wrote some of country music’s most compelling and consequential songs, he fronted a remarkable band, and he sang with power and emotion,” the statement added. “He also shone as an inspiration, revealing what others called an impediment as a vehicle for humor and hope.”

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Tillis has left behind an estimate fortune of $20 million. Although a major chunk of his earnings came from his solo career, it also helped that the country singer often collaborated with other music artists to enhance both his performances as well as his net worth.

Tillis was born on Aug. 8, 1932, in Dover, Florida, and grew up with his brother Richard and two sisters, Linda and Imogene. He did not complete his degree at the University of Florida as he dropped out to join the U.S. Air Force.

Even though Tillis suffered from Malaria-induced stuttering from a young age, he soon discovered that his singing was not affected by his speech-impediment. He even entitled his 1984 autobiography “Stutterin’ Boy,” a nickname given to him early in his career.

“My stutter has been a blessing in a lot of ways. It’s helped me to try harder and to be somebody that helps other people,” Tillis told Idaho’s inland360.com in a 2015 interview, Reuters reported. “After the show, I’ll spend a little time with children who stutter, let them know it’s OK.”

By the age of 16, Tillis had begun playing the guitar and drums and also won a local talent show. While serving in Okinawa, he formed his own band called The Westerners, which performed in a number of night clubs at the time.

After leaving the Air Force in 1955, Tillis auditioned for music producer Wesley Rose of the record company Acuff-Rose Music in Nashville, Tennessee. After the audition, Rose encouraged Tillis to launch his career as a country music artist.

Tillis’ two debut singles — “The Violet and a Rose” and “Sawmill” (both in 1958) — and his first studio album —“Stateside” (1966) — were released after he signed a deal with Columbia Records, Net Worth Post reported. 

Two of his albums entered the U.S. Country Top 20 chart in the 60s, however, the peak of his career came in the 70s when he recorded 18 studio albums, including seven that made it to the much-prestigious chart. Some of his best-known hits are “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” ”I Ain’t Never,” and “Good Woman Blues."

Apart from creating solo hits, Tillis also collaborated with renowned artists such as Sherry Bruce on “Living and Learning” and “Let’s Go All the Way Tonight;” Nancy Sinatra on “Mel and Nancy;” and with Bobby Bare, Waylon Jennings, and Jerry Reed on ”Old Dogs."

In 2007, Tillis was included in the Country Music Hall of Fame and in March 2009 he was inducted into the Florida Artist Hall of Fame. In February 2012, former President Barack Obama awarded Mel the National Medal of Arts for his contribution to country music. He also received the Entertainer of the Year award at the CMA Awards.

According to Taste of Country, Tillis is survived by his brother Richard; his sister Linda; his longtime partner Kathy DeMonaco; six children — songwriter Mel "Sonny" Tillis, Jr., singer-songwriter Pam Tillis, Carrie April Tillis, Connie Tillis, Cindy Tillis, and Hannah Tillis; six grandchildren; and a great grandson.