Country legend, Mel Tillis is rolling into town this Saturday night for a single show at Rams Head On Stage. Over the weekend, we had a chance to talk to Tillis from his home in Florida about his wonderful career, his accolades, his “dream duet” and even his feelings about Navy–Tillis is an Air Force guy!
Eye On Annapolis: It was more than 50 years ago when “The Violet and a Rose” broke onto the charts. And you seem to have not looked back at all. There are so many “once and done” artists and so few rarities like yourself who have the mettle to go the distance. To what do you attribute your longevity?
Mell Tillis: Humor! It keeps you young and smilin’.
When it comes to country music, it doesn’t get any better than the Grand Ole Opry and The CMHOF, not to mention the 2011 National Medal of Arts & Humanities by President. Obama. You are among an elite group of artists and the feeling of being honored among so many greats, some of which I imagine were idols for you, has to be huge. How does it feel to be a peer with country greatness?
EOA: The list of people with whom you have corroborated is long and filled with the greats. It is also filled with some surprises. Nancy Sinatra, Waylon Jennings, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, Willie Nelson and so forth. Who was your most memorable partner? Why?
MT: Sherry Bryce. I recorded several albums with her, and she remains a good friend to this day.
We decided to have some fun (and see if he’s spill any scoop–no such luck) and limit his answers to a few words on some rapid fire questions!
- What means more to you personally, what you sang or what you wrote? Wrote
- Favorite artist of all time? Lefty Frizell
- Favorite current artist? Toby Keith
- Small intimate rooms or larger venues? Small Intimate
- Does Willie Nelson deserve the reputation he gets in the press? Can’t Say
- You have the choice of performing with any artist or group (dead or alive) who is it? Merle Haggard
- I know you are an Air Force guy, but you are playing in a Navy town. Can I get a Go Navy!? Absolutely…Go Navy!*
EOA: Is there any signs of slowing down or stopping for Mel Tillis? The only sign I can see if that you are living in Florida. What’s next?
MT: No slowing down. Besides performing, I am oil painting – check out my web site under Artwork – and I also just finished my first novel entitled “Actin’ Sheriff”. It is not out yet, as it is in the editing stage right now. And the reason I am in Florida is because it is my home state (born and raised) and I love it here. Go Gators !!
EOA: Who knew?