Author Archive


Remembering Mel

Written by Don Reid. Posted in General

Another giant in the music industry left us this past weekend.  And a genuine good man he was.  Mel Tillis had that perennial smile and fun personality wherever and whenever you saw him.  We first crossed paths working a country music package show in Charlotte, in the early 60s, before we had even gotten to Nashville. By 1967 we had recorded our first Mel Tillis-written song on our second album, “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.”  As a songwriter, he was unequaled. Everybody in the business recorded one or more of his fabulous songs in their career.

The five of us were sitting backstage one night somewhere and he was telling us about a gift he had recently gotten. A group of fans had a wood carving made of his likeness; small but very detailed. He took great pains in telling us how they had captured his fancy suit and boots and had perfectly chiseled the way he held the guitar. Then he said, “But when I got up to the head and looked it right in the face, it looked exactly like Phil.” We all broke up and then he looked at Phil and said, “Do you want it?” We had never noticed until then just how much he and Phil looked alike. It was a running joke for years every time we got together.

In the middle of our run of 4th of July charity shows in Staunton, (we did it for 25 years) Mel came to our hometown in 1984 and did the show with us. The consummate entertainer, he could do comedy and with such ease and then slide right into a heartbreaker like “Burning Memories” (yes, he wrote that one, too.) We never felt we had properly paid back his kindness until years later. Mel went to Branson and bought his own theater and worked there for years, most of the time seven nights a week. That’s hard and tiring work. He called us one time when he heard we were going to be in the Midwest and said, “Guys, will ya’ll come out here and do a couple of nights in my theater so I can have a break and take a couple of days off?” We did, and gladly for a friend.

We hosted a couple of award shows together through the years and when we did our second 2-hour tv special in the 80s, Mel came and did that with us, also. Harold and I wrote a great little western skit for him and Reba. The Statlers were the bad guys, Reba was the heroine, and Mel was the shaky sheriff and he was hilarious. He also did a song and a standup comedy routine where I joined him in the end. You can watch it below.

But before you do, let me just say Mel was a man who could do it all and always had fun doing it. He loved his family, his work, his friends, and he loved the country music he was so good at creating.  We will cherish it all from “Detroit City” to “Mental Revenge.” (Yeah, he wrote both of those, too.) We’ll miss you, my friend. But just for a while.



DSR    11/20/17


Handling Las Vegas

Written by Don Reid. Posted in General

My intentions and plans were to write a blog this morning concerning something fun and lighthearted that I was involved with last week.  But intentions and plans get waylaid and forgotten when more serious concerns arise.  I am distraught over the horrible event in Las Vegas as I know you are.

I stood on stages all over the world for decades during thousands of performances and looked down into the smiling and joyous faces of country music fans who were there with family and friends simply for an evening of fun.  They were always happy and smiling; swaying to the rhythms of the music and mouthing the words of each song.  Husbands and wives, kids, sweethearts, mothers and fathers.   On the news these past few days I saw faces just like all those I remember but instead of being full of happiness and expectation, those faces were smeared in blood and streaked with fear and anguish; a dark, lost look in their eyes, trying frantically to make sense of something senseless.  They were crying and running for their lives; shielding those they love from whatever bullet of death may be coming toward their very heads in a split second.  But they showed their love for one another as all their good instincts kicked in immediately.  Strangers pulled strangers from the line of fire.  Some threw their bodies over loved ones in endearing acts of protection.  Lives were bonded with one horrific tragedy that will last in their minds for the rest of their lives.   At this writing, 59 of those wonderful human beings are dead.  The injured has reached a count of 527.  Who knows how these numbers will swell and change?  Only God in his infinite vision can know for sure.

I have looked upon this situation as a lifelong Christian, trying to come to terms with what happened in the same manner I have done with similar happenings over past years.  I don’t look for blame and reason but I do look for a handle to grasp as we go forward.  I struggle, as many in the faith do, to even know how to pray over such circumstances. At first I want to strike out at something or someone.  Then I recoil my feelings and attempt to follow a better path laced with a little wisdom, or so I should hope.

When Elijah asked Elisha what he could do for him before he was taken up to heaven, Elisha said, “I pray that you give me a double portion of your spirit.”  And that will be my prayer as we heal through this horrible passage in our nation’s history.  I’ll ask for a double portion of faith and wisdom; a double portion of healing for the families so much in need in this massacre.  And all this on the heels of so much pain and loss from natural disasters so many have suffered in recent weeks.  Where and when will it stop cannot be known by any of us.   So if you have been given faith, please ask boldly for a little more and lose yourself in prayer for all those so desperately in need of it.

All of God’s good blessings to you,

Don Reid