Mac Davis, the country music artist and songwriter behind some of Elvis Presley’s most indelible recordings, died Tuesday at the age of 78. According to a tweet from his family on Monday, Davis became “seriously ill following heart surgery in Nashville.” His manager confirmed the entertainer’s death in a statement.
Born in Lubbock, Texas in 1942, Davis would evolve into a crossover country and Adult Contemporary star with solo hits like “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me”, “Stop and Smell the Roses” and “One Hell of to Woman. “In 1974, he was named Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music, beating nominations such as Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard. In the same year, he was nominated for Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association, but lost to Charlie Rich.
Davis experienced a renaissance in the 1980s, thanks to the new hit “It’s Hard to Be Humble” (covered by Willie Nelson in 2019 Ride Me Back Home), “Texas in My Rearview Mirror” and the rockabilly “Hooked on Music”, which nodded, both lyrically and musically, to its greatest champion: Elvis Presley. In the late 1960s, he recorded a number of Davis compositions, including “A Little Less Conversation” and the tale of urban poverty “In the Ghetto,” which Davis also recorded. The former was a posthumous success for Presley, based on a 2002 remix by Dutch DJ Junkie XL, while the success of the latter endeared Davis’ material to Presley. He went on to record other compositions such as “Memories” and “Don’t Cry Daddy”, both staples of his 1970s live performances.
A member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the National Songwriters Hall of Fame, Davis has also had his songs recorded by Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell, Bobby Goldsboro and the soft-rock group Gallery, one of the many artists who have recorded “I believe in music. “In 1989, he recorded the duet” Wait ‘Til I Get You Home “with Dolly Parton for the country legend’s album White Limozeen.
Davis has had modest success as an actor and television personality, also hosting his own variety series, The Mac Davis Show, from 1974 to 1976 on NBC. In 2019 he appeared in an episode of the Netflix series Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings.
Kenny Chesney regarded Davis as one of the earliest influences and remembered him on Tuesday as a “songwriting hero”.
“He welcomed me into his home and gave me that tremendous creative light. Even though he wrote “In the Ghetto” for Elvis and had so many incredible hits, it made me feel like what I was doing was important, “Chesney said.” A small town kid who had achieved the pinnacle of fame, he remained a good boy, a father of a family. That was Mac: a giant heart, ready to laugh and a greater creative spirit. I was lucky enough to have it shone on me. “