Mac Davis, the pop-country musician and occasional actor who wrote hits for Elvis Presley and a few in his own name as well, has died at age 78 in Nashville in the wake of recent heart surgery, the Country Music Association confirmed in a press release..
Born Jan. 21, 1942 in Lubbock, Texas, Davis received his first guitar as a gift from his father at age nine, but didn’t get seriously interested in music until he moved in with his divorced mother in Atlanta after graduating high school. Davis started a rock band called the Zots and worked as a regional manager for independent R&B label Vee-Jay Records, but his career really kicked into gear when he went to work for Nancy Sinatra’s Boots Enterprises. Davis worked both as a supporting musician for Sinatra in her recordings and live shows, and as a songwriter. In particular, Davis-written songs like “In the Ghetto” and “A Little Less Conversation” became hits for Presley.
In 1970, Davis left Boots Enterprises for Columbia Records and started singing his own songs. His biggest solo hit was 1972’s “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me,” which went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, found crossover success on the country charts, and was even featured on an episode of The Muppet Show. “I Believe In Music” was a Top 40 hit for the Detroit group Gallery in 1972, but eventually became Davis’ signature song that he used to end his own concerts. Davis also made his acting debut in the 1979 film North Dallas Forty, which starred Nick Nolte in a comedy about professional football.
Davis’ songwriting success continued throughout his life. In recent years, he collaborated with 21st century pop stars like Avicii (“Addicted To You”) and Bruno Mars (“Young Girls”). He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006.
Davis is survived by his wife Lise (née Gerard); their two children, Noah Claire and Cody Luke; another son, Joel Scott, from his first marriage; and grandchildren.