NASHVILLE — Country star Mac Davis, who crafted the Elvis hits "A Little Less Conversation" and "In the Ghetto" before launching his own successful artist career, has died. He was 78.
His longtime manager Jim Morey said in a press release that Davis died in Nashville on Tuesday after heart surgery and was surrounded by family and friends.
Davis had a long and varied career in music for decades as a writer, singer, actor and TV host and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006. He was named 1974’s entertainer of the year by the Academy of Country Music after the success of songs including "Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me."
Born in Lubbock, Texas, and raised in Georgia, Davis was inspired by fellow Lubbock native Buddy Holly, but it was Elvis who gave him his first musical big break. Davis helped craft the song "Memories" that was a cornerstone of Elvis’ big 1968 comeback TV special.
"A small town boy who’d achieved the greatest kinds of fame, he remained a good guy, a family man," said country star Kenny Chesney. "That was Mac: a giant heart, quick to laugh and a bigger creative spirit. I was blessed to have it shine on me. And Mac, who was joyous, funny and created a family around him, never stopped writing great songs, creating music and inspiring everyone around him."
Davis got a recording deal of his own in 1970, recording "Hooked on Music," "It’s Hard to be Humble," and "Texas in my Rearview Mirror," and getting crossover success on pop charts. He had his own TV series, "The Mac Davis Show" on NBC, and also acted in TV and film, including alongside Nick Nolte in the football film "North Dallas Forty." He even starred on Broadway, in "The Will Rogers Follies" and toured with the musical.
He also wrote songs recorded by Kenny Rogers ("Something’s Burning"), Dolly Parton ("White Limozeen") and Ray Price ("Lonesomest Lonesome"). He was still writing later in life, getting co-writing credits on songs by Avicii and Bruno Mars.
"Today our country community lost an amazing entertainer, songwriter and artist," said Sarah Trahern, CEO of CMA."I remember watching Mac’s TV show as a kid as well as his three years co-hosting the CMA Awards with Barbara Mandrell, which proved his command of the TV medium as well as the music."