Lonnie Melvin Tillis, 8 August 1932, Tampa, Florida, USA. The family relocated to Dover, 18 miles east of Tampa, when Tillis was only eight months old. He contracted malaria when aged only three, and was left with a permanent stutter. During his school days, various treatments failed to cure this speech problem and though originally embarrassed by it, he managed in later years to turn it into a trademark. He learned to play guitar (and later the fiddle) during his early teens and at high school was a football player and also played drums in a band. In the early 50s, devoid of any real career ideas, he enlisted in the Air Force. He was discharged in 1955 when for a short time he attended the University of Florida. Bored, he dropped out and worked at various tasks including strawberry picking and truck-driving. In 1956, he wrote a song called Im Tired, which was recorded by and became a big hit for Webb Pierce. This enabled Tillis, as he said later,...
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