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MAC DAVIS,
1942-2020

Mac Davis, the songwriter who blossomed when Elvis Presley started recording his songs in the 1960s and became a pop star in his own right in the ‘70s, died Tuesday in Nashville. He was 78.

His family and Dolly Parton had tweeted on Monday that Davis was critically ill following heart surgery.

His longtime manager, Jim Morey, announced his death on Facebook. “Mac has been my client for over 40 years, and more importantly, my best friend,” Morey wrote. “He was a music legend but his most important work was that as a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend.”

Years before he topped the chart with “Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me,” Davis penned “Memories,” ”In the Ghetto,” and “A Little Less Conversation” for Presley while Glen Campbell, Delaney & Bonnie, O.C. Smith and Kenny Rogers and the First Edition were recording his songs as well.

In his early 20s, Davis left his native Lubbock, Texas, to move to Los Angeles where he signed with Nancy Sinatra's publishing company, Boots Enterprises. She was the first major artist to record one of his songs: “Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham,” which was released in 1968. Blue Cheer would record a rock version a year later.

Clive Davis signed Mac Davis to Columbia Records in 1970;he was also able to leave Sinatra’s company and take his songs with him. Before releasing his debut, Presley, having already recorded “A Little Less Conversation,” asked Davis for another song. Davis gave him a tune he had penned for Sammy Davis Jr.: “In the Ghetto.” Following its success, The King recorded Davis’ “Memories,” “Don’t Cry Daddy” and “Clean Up Your Own Backyard.”

An increasing number of AC-oriented artists recorded Davis’ songs by the dozens; his signature song, “I Believe in Music,” was recorded a half-dozen times before it became a hit for Gallery in 1972.

While his writing positioned him in the Adult Contemporary crowd, as a singer he pursued a career in country. His 1972 record “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me” hit #1 on the pop and country charts while the album Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me went platinum despite peaking at #11 pop and #27 country.

His greatest chart success was 1974’s Stop and Smell the Roses, which went to #2 country and #13 pop; the title track went to #2. That year, Davis was named Entertainer of the Year by the CMA.

“Rock ‘N Roll (I Gave You The Best Years of My Life),” released in 1974, was his last hit until 1980 when he had a string of six Top 40 country songs in two years, “It’s Hard to Be Humble” and “Hooked on Music” among them.

In the 70s, Davis parlayed his musical success into a TV career, hosting his own musical variety show for NBC from 1974 to 1976 along with multiple Christmas specials. He moved to film in 1979’s North Dallas Forty and acted consistently in the 1990s and 2000s. He also appeared on Broadway and toured in The Will Rogers Follies.

Late in life he returned to songwriting, working with Parton, Bruno Mars, Rivers Cuomo and Avicii.

He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000.

TAGS: Mac Davis | obit
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