Photo: Courtesy

Mel Tillis sings his classic hit “Coca-Cola Cowboy” live at the Grand Ole Opry.

Legendary country singer Mel Tillis got his start in the 1950s when he formed a band called The Westerners while stationed with the Air Force and working as a baker in Okinawa. He became a singing sensation in the ’70s, eventually racking up nine Top 10 hits, including “I Ain’t Never,” which reached No. 2 on Hot Country Songs, and six No.1 hits, including “Good Woman Blues,” “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” and “Southern Rains.”

But Tillis’ staggering musical legacy might well be his songwriting. He has written more than 1,000 songs; around 600 have been recorded by a major artist. One of the most recognizable, “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” topped the charts for Kenny Rogers.

For his contribution to country music, Tillis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters International Hall of Fame in 1976, and he became of member of the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2009, the Florida-born-and-raised artist was inducted into the Florida Artist Hall of Fame.

On August 8, Tillis celebrated his 85th birthday. To celebrate the milestone and his talent, we wanted to share this video of a performance of “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” live at the Ryman Auditorium.