- Wrote hit songs for the likes of Kenny Rogers, Bobby Bare, Ray Price, and Webb Pierce
- Recorded hit songs "Good Woman Blues," "Coca Cola Cowboy," and "Southern Rain"
- Member of the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame, and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
- Received CMA Entertainer of the Year and the National Medal of Arts
After leaving a stint in the military, Tillis moved to Nashville in 1956 to launch his musical career. In 1957, Webb Pierce took one of Tillis' songs titled "I'm Tired" to No. 3 on the charts. Tillis cut his first single that same year, a cover of "It Takes a Worried Man to Sing a Worried Song." His first Top 40 hit came the following year with "The Violet and a Rose."
Tillis continued to chart singles like 1959's "Finally" and a pair of duets with Bill Phillips, "Sawmill" and "Georgia Town Blues," while also supplying Webb Pierce with hit after hit, including the 1959 smashes "I Ain't Never" and "No Love Have I" along with 1962's "Crazy Wild Desire" and 1963's "Sawmill." Bobby Bare, Ray Price, Stonewall Jackson, and Little Jimmy Dickens also covered Tillis' songs.
In 1965, Tillis recorded his first Top 15 hit, "Wine." A string of successes followed, including 1966's "Stateside," "Life Turned Her That Way," and his first Top 10, 1968's "Who's Julie." At the same time, his stature as a songwriter continued to grow thanks to hit covers of his "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" by both Johnny Darrell and Kenny Rogers & the First Edition and "Mental Revenge" by Waylon Jennings. After two 1969 Top 10 hits, "These Lonely Hands of Mine" and "She'll Be Hanging Around Somewhere," Tillis scored back-to-back Top 5 hits in 1970 with "Heart Over Mind" and "Heaven Everyday." In 1971, he began a successful string of duets with Sherry Bryce which included "Take My Hand" and "Living and Learning."
"I Ain't Never" became his first chart-topper in 1972. What followed was a series of Top 5 smashes like "Neon Rose," "Sawmill," "Midnight, Me and the Blues," "Stomp Them Grapes," and "Memory Maker." Between 1976 and 1980, he scored five more No. 1s - "Good Woman Blues," "Heart Healer," "I Believe in You," "Coca Cola Cowboy," and "Southern Rains."
Mel Tillis has written well over 1,000 songs, with approximately 600 recorded by major artists. He has recorded more than 60 albums, including 36 Top 10 singles, with nine of them going to No. 1.
In 1976, Tillis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters International Hall of Fame, and that same year, he was named Country Music Association's (CMA) Entertainer of the Year. Also, for six years in the 70s, Mel Tillis won Comedian of the Year.
Mel Tillis became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in June 2007, and on October 28, 2007, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Inducted to the Music City Walk of Fame on November 7, 2010.