Though his off-stage persona hinged on a broadly comic presence that often poked good-natured fun at his trademark vocal stutter, Mel Tillis possessed serious talents as both a singer and songwriter in the country vein, racking up six No. 1 singles and a slew of Top 10 hits over the course of a five-decade career. He found initial success in the late 1950s, penning songs for country stars like Webb Pierce and Ray Price before launching his own recording career. But it would be another decade before he would strike gold with his own music, beginning in 1972 with the chart-topping "I Ain't Never." More hits, including "Neon Rose" and "Heart Healer," helped to make Tillis one of the most popular country performers of the 1970s, a status that parlayed into a modest acting career in features and television. Though his singing career waned in the late 1980s, Tillis retained his golden touch as a songwriter and concert attraction well into the new millennium. His induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame and receipt of the National Medal of the Arts underscored his status as one of country music's most accomplished talents.