Country Crooner, Elvis Writer Mac Davis Dies @ 78

On the same day that fellow crooner Helen Reddy died, beloved country singer Mac Davis also died, also at 78. He died a day after news that he had undergone unsuccessful heart surgery.

With Nick Nolte in North Dallas Forty (Image via Paramount)

Davis's manager of 40+ years, Jim Morey, announced the singer's death on social media, writing:

It's with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Mac Davis. He was surrounded

“It's with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Mac Davis. He was surrounded by the love of his life and wife of 38 years, Lise, and his sons Scott, Noah and Cody. Mac has been my client for over 40 years, and more importantly.. my best friend.He was a music legend but his most important work was that as a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend.I will miss laughing about our many adventures on the road and his insightful sense of humor.When there was a tough decision to be made he often told me 'You decide.. I'm going to the golf course!'To quote from his song I Believe in Music..'I could just sit around making music all day longAs long as I'm making my music ain't gonna do nobody no harmAnd who knows maybe I'll come up with a song'And he did...time after time.”

Born January 21, 1942, in Lubbock, Texas, Davis moved to Atlanta after finishing high school, where he co-founded a rock band called the Zots and worked for Vee Jay Records.

His way into entertainment was as a songwriter, first for Nancy Sinatra's company Boots Enterprises, Inc., which led to Elvis Presley covering his song “In the Ghetto” (1969). Presley would also cover his “A Little Less Conversation,” a minor hit in the King's lifetime, but a massive, remixed hit many years after Presley's death.

Riding high, Davis signed with Columbia in 1970, quickly becoming a popular country singer (he won the ACM Entertainer of the Year Award in 1974) in his own right, and one whose songs tended to cross over into pop success. His “Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me” (1972) was a #1 smash, and he also made an impact with such tunes as “One Hell of a Woman” (#11, 1974), “Stop and Smell the Roses” (#9, 1974), “Rock 'N' Roll (I Gave You the Best Years of My Life)” (#15, 1975) and “It's Hard to Be Humble” (#43, 1980).

Adventurously, Davis recorded for disco label Casablanca in the '80s, and was labelmates with Donna Summer and KISS, which reflected his pop moorings.

Davis headlined his own variety show from 1974-1976 on NBC, The Mac Davis Show, and branched out into acting, most memorably as part of the cast of North Dallas Forty (1979). He made his Broadway debut in The Will Rogers Follies in the early '90s, and acted sporadically for years, right up through 2019's Dolly Parton's Heartstrings.

A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Davis is survived by his wife of 38 years, Lise, his three sons and his grandchildren.

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