Legendary country and western singer-songwriter Mel Tillis died this week; Tillis was a longtime friend and supporter of the High Plains region.
Tillis was famous for his mellifluous singing voice and his stutter when he spoke. Tillis’s self-effacing nature was in evidence when he purchased a country radio station in Amarillo and used the call letters KMML, a winking reference to his own speech impediment.
The Amarillo Globe-News noted this week that Tillis was particularly moved by the mission of Boys Ranch, the Texas Panhandle’s famous working ranch for disadvantaged children, founded by Cal Farley in 1939. In the 1970s, Mel Tillis played free shows for the students at Boys Ranch.
He never missed a chance to play Amarillo, either, gracing the stage of the Tri-State Fair five times between 1974 and 1981.
Tillis died on Sunday. He was 85.