Mac Davis

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Mac Davis
Davis performing at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Concert in 2010
Davis performing at the
Alabama Music Hall of Fame Concert in 2010
Background information
Birth nameMac Davis
Born(1942-01-21)January 21, 1942
Lubbock, Texas, U.S.
DiedSeptember 29, 2020(2020-09-29) (aged 78)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
GenresCountry, pop
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, actor
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar
Years active1962–2020
LabelsColumbia, Casablanca, MCA
Burial placeCity of Lubbock Cemetery, Lubbock, Texas, U.S.

Mac Davis[1] (January 21, 1942 – September 29, 2020) was an American songwriter, singer, performer, and actor. A native of Lubbock, Texas, he enjoyed success as a crossover artist,[2] and during his early career he wrote for Elvis Presley, providing him with the hits "Memories", "In the Ghetto", "Don't Cry Daddy", and "A Little Less Conversation". A subsequent solo career in the 1970s produced hits such as "Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me". Davis also starred in his own variety show, a Broadway musical, and various films and TV shows.[3][4][5][6]


Early life[edit]

Davis was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas, the son of Edith Irene (Lankford) and T. J. Davis, a building contractor.[7]

Career as a songwriter[edit]

Once Davis was settled in Atlanta, he organized a rock and roll group called the Zots, and made two singles for OEK Records, managed and promoted by OEK owner Oscar Kilgo.[3][4][5] [8] Davis also worked for the Vee Jay record company (home to such R&B stars as Gene Chandler, Jerry Butler, and Dee Clark) as a regional manager and later became a regional manager for Liberty Records.[2]

Mac Davis Lane intersects Avenue Q (U.S. Highway 84) in Davis's hometown of Lubbock.

Davis became famous as a songwriter and got his start as an employee of Nancy Sinatra's company, Boots Enterprises, Inc. Davis was with Boots for several years in the late 1960s. During his time there, he played on many of Sinatra's recordings, and she worked him into her stage shows. Boots Enterprises also acted as Davis's publishing company, publishing songs such as "In the Ghetto", "Friend, Lover, Woman, Wife", "Home", and "Memories", which were recorded by Elvis Presley, Nancy Sinatra, B. J. Thomas and many others. During a short timespan Davis used the pseudonym "Scott Davis" for songwriting purposes (borrowing from the given name of his son) to avoid confusion with renowned songwriter Mack David.[9] Davis left Boots Enterprises in 1970 to sign with Columbia Records, taking all of his songs with him.[3][4][5]

One of the songs he wrote in 1968, called "A Little Less Conversation", was recorded by Elvis Presley (and became a posthumous success for Presley years later). Presley also recorded Davis's "In the Ghetto" in sessions in Memphis. Mac Davis eventually recorded the tune after Presley's version became a success, and was released in a Ronco In Concert compilation in 1975. Presley continued to record more of Davis's material, such as "Memories", "Don't Cry Daddy", and "Clean Up Your Own Backyard". Bobby Goldsboro also recorded some of Davis's songs, including "Watching Scotty Grow",[2] which became a No. 1 Adult Contemporary success for Goldsboro in 1971. Other artists who recorded his material included Vikki Carr, O.C. Smith, and Kenny Rogers and The First Edition. "I Believe in Music", often considered to be Davis's signature song, was recorded by several artists (including Marian Love, B.J. Thomas, Louis Jordan, Perry Como, Helen Reddy, Lynn Anderson, and Davis himself) before it finally became a success in 1972 for the group Gallery.[3][4][5]

During the 1970s, many of his songs "crossed over", successfully scoring on both the country and popular music charts, including "Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me"[2] (a number one Grammy-nominated success), "One Hell of a Woman" (pop no. 11), and "Stop and Smell the Roses" (a no. 9 pop hit).[2] Also, during the 1970s and 1980s, he was very active as an actor, appearing in several movies, including 1979’s North Dallas Forty, as well as hosting a successful variety show.[3][4][5] In 2010, Davis co-wrote the song “Time Flies” with Rivers Cuomo which appeared on Weezer’s Hurley album. In 2013 he was part of the Los Angeles writing and producing team that created the hit "Young Girls" for Bruno Mars.[10] Davis also wrote and collaborated with the Swedish D.J. and music producer Avicii, penning the song “Addicted to You” for Avicii's debut studio album True. They performed the song “Black and Blue” together at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami in 2013.

Success as a singer[edit]

Davis performing in 1986

Davis soon decided to pursue a career of his own as a recording artist. After several years of writing songs for other artists, he was signed by Clive Davis for Columbia, later topping the Country and Pop charts with the song "Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me" in 1972. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America in September 1972 Recording Industry Association of America in September 1972.[11]

In 1974, Davis was awarded the Academy of Country Music's Entertainer of the Year award. He had other successes including the songs "Stop and Smell the Roses" (a number one Adult Contemporary success in 1974) (pop no. 9), "One Hell of a Woman" (pop no. 11), "Rock 'N' Roll (I Gave You the Best Years of My Life)" (pop no. 15), and "Burnin' Thing" (pop no. 53). At the end of the 1970s, he was signed by Neil Bogart and moved to Casablanca Records, which was best known at the time for its successes with disco star Donna Summer and rock'n'roll band Kiss. His first success for the company in 1980 was the novelty song "It's Hard to Be Humble", a light-hearted look at how popularity and good looks could go to one's head. The song became his first Country music top 10 and a rare top 30 hit in the UK. (It was translated into Dutch as "Het is moeilijk bescheiden te blijven" and became a hit for the Dutch singer Peter Blanker in 1981). Later that year, he had another top 10 song with "Let's Keep It That Way" written by Curly Putman and Rafe Van Hoy. In November, "Rock 'N' Roll (I Gave You the Best Years of My Life)" was played by KHJ in Los Angeles as its last song before it switched from Top 40 to Country music.[12] He achieved success with other songs like "Texas in My Rear View Mirror" and "Hooked on Music", which became his biggest Country music success in 1981 going to number 2. In 1985, he recorded his last top 10 country music success with the song "I Never Made Love (Till I Made Love With You)".[13]

On January 19, 1985, Davis performed "God Bless the USA" at the 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala, held the day before the second inauguration of Ronald Reagan.[13]

Acting career[edit]

From 1974 to 1976, Davis had his own television variety show on NBC, The Mac Davis Show.[13] He made his feature film debut opposite Nick Nolte in the football film North Dallas Forty (1979)[14] and was listed as one of 12 "Promising New Actors of 1979" by Screen World magazine.[citation needed]

In 1980, Davis hosted an episode of The Muppet Show.[15] He performed "Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me", "It's Hard To Be Humble", and "I Believe in Music".[citation needed]

Davis also starred in the 1981 comedy film Cheaper To Keep Her, playing a divorced detective who worked for a neurotic feminist attorney.

In 1983, he appeared in The Sting II, as Jake Hooker, a younger relative of Johnny Hooker, portrayed by Robert Redford in The Sting.[3][4][5]

In November 1991, Davis checked into the Betty Ford Clinic, marking the beginning of his commitment to sobriety. Exactly four months later, he performed as Will Rogers in the Broadway production of The Will Rogers Follies at the Palace Theater, noting that it was his first-ever sober performance. Following each show, Davis shared his journey to sobriety and urged anyone battling addiction to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. He continued to play Will Rogers for over a year during the show's national tour.[16]

In 1998, Davis starred in the sports comedy Possums, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. Davis served as the balladeer for the 2000 telefilm The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood, replacing Don Williams, who had served the part in 1997's The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! and Waylon Jennings, who narrated the original Dukes of Hazzard television show. Davis was the first balladeer to appear on-screen to welcome the audience and provide exposition.[6] Davis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000. He was awarded a star symbol on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 7080 Hollywood Boulevard, for his contribution to the recording industry.[3][4][5]

In 2001, Davis played a fellow karaoke competitor to Jon Gries's Sunny Holiday in the Polish brothers' film Jackpot. In the film, a dispute began between Sunny's manager, played by Garrett Morris, and Davis's character about what song he should sing. The manager suggested Davis's "Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me", which Davis's character claimed just was not him.[citation needed]

From 2001 to 2003, Davis voiced the character of Barber Bingo on two episodes of the animated TV series Oswald; "Henry Needs A Haircut" and "The Naughty Cat".[citation needed]

Between 1999 and 2006, Davis provided the character voices of Sheriff Buford (two episodes) and a talk radio host named "Sports Jock" (three episodes), on the animated series King of the Hill.[citation needed]

Davis also guest-starred briefly in the 8 Simple Rules episode "Let's Keep Going: Part 2" in April 2004.[citation needed]

He had a recurring role as Rodney Carrington's father-in-law in the sitcom Rodney.[citation needed]

In 2000, Davis hosted Labor of Love, a live FM radio show for KZLA Los Angeles.

Personal life and death[edit]

Davis was married three times, his marriages producing three children:

  • Fran Cook: 1963–1968 (divorced; one son, Joel Scott)[3][4][5][17]
  • Sarah Barg: 1971–1976 (divorced)[2]
  • Lise Kristen Gerard: 1983–2020 (his death; two children, Noah Claire and Cody Luke)[3][4][5][18]

At 21, he married Fran Cook from Georgia. Their son, Joel Scott, was born a year later; Davis shifted from playing in rock bands to learning the music business while working in Liberty Records' publishing division.[2] The Liberty job got him to Los Angeles and made it easier to "pitch his own tunes" to record producers. Davis commented, "One day Fran decided to do her own thing and she wanted me to do mine." They divorced and she went back to Atlanta.[citation needed]

Davis next met Sarah Barg, then 16 and living in his apartment building with her mother. Two years later, they were married. "We talked about having a family, but I was waiting for her to grow up," he says. She left him in 1976 for Glen Campbell, with whom she then had one child, Dillon. She also left Campbell shortly after Dillon's birth.

In 1979, Davis started to date a young nurse, Lise Gerard.[3][4][5][19] They married in 1983 when she was 25, and they had two children.[18] They remained happily married until Davis' death at age 78 on September 29, 2020, following heart surgery.[3][4][5] [20][21]



Year Title Role Notes
1979 North Dallas Forty Seth Maxwell
1981 Cheaper to Keep Her Bill Dekker
1983 The Sting II Jake Hooker
1985 Brothers-in-Law T.K. "Tom" Kenny TV movie
1988 What Price Victory Jake Ramson TV movie
1991 Blackmail Norm TV movie
1996 For My Daughter's Honor Norm Dustin TV movie
1998 Still Holding On: The Legend of Cadillac Jack Clayton TV movie
1998 Possums Wilbur "Will" Clark
1999 Angel's Dance Norman
2000 The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood The Balladeer TV movie
2001 Murder, She Wrote: The Last Free Man Sheriff Underwood TV movie
2001 Jackpot Sammy Bones
2003 Where the Red Fern Grows Hod Bellington
2004 True Vinyl Frank Thompson
2005 The Wendell Baker Story Agent Buck
2008 Beer for My Horses Reverend J.D. Parker
2017 Where the Fast Lane Ends Big Jack


Year Title Role Notes
1970 The Johnny Cash Show Himself (Guest Star) Season 2, Episode 4
1973 The Midnight Special Himself (Guest Host - Performer) Season 1, Episode 3
1974–1976 The Mac Davis Show Himself (Host – Performer) TV variety show (35 episodes)
1975 The Mac Davis Special Himself (Host – Performer) TV special
1975 The Mac Davis Christmas Special Himself (Host – Performer) TV special
1976 Mac Davis Christmas Special: When I Grow Up Himself (Host – Performer) TV special
1977 Mac Davis: Sounds Like Home Himself (Host – Performer) TV special
1977 Mac Davis: I Believe in Christmas Himself (Host – Performer) TV special
1978 Mac Davis's Christmas Odyssey: Two Thousand and Ten Himself (Host – Performer) TV special
1979 A Christmas Special with Love, Mac Davis Himself (Host – Performer) TV special
1980 The Muppet Show Himself (Guest Star) Episode: "Mac Davis"
1980 Mac Davis 10th Anniversary Special: I Still Believe in Music Himself (Host – Performer) TV special
1980 Mac Davis – I'll Be Home for Christmas Himself (Host – Performer) TV special
1981 The Mac Davis Christmas Special Himself (Host – Performer) TV special
1983 The Mac Davis Special: The Music of Christmas Himself (Host – Performer) TV special
1986 Webster Uncle Jake Tyler Episode: "Almost Home"
1986 Tall Tales & Legends Davy Crockett Episode: "Davy Crockett"
1987 Dolly Himself (Guest Star) Episode: "A Down Home Country Christmas"
1993 The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies Himself (Host) TV special
1995 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Larry Smiley Episode: "Just Say Noah"
1995–1996 The Client Waldo Gaines 3 episodes
1996 Daytona Beach Reese Elliot TV pilot episode
1999 Chicken Soup for the Soul Sheriff Riley Episode: "It's Never Too Late"
1999–2006 King of the Hill Sheriff Mumord / Sports Jock (voice) 5 episodes
2000 That '70s Show St. Peter Episode: "Holy Crap"
2000 The Prosecutors: In Pursuit of Justice Reenactment Actor Episode: "The Bone Yard"
2001–2003 Oswald Barber Bingo (voice) 2 episodes
2004 8 Simple Rules Guitar Player Episode: "Let's Keep Going: Part 2"
2004 Johnny Bravo Bee Bearded Man / Troubadour (voice) 2 episodes
2004–2006 Rodney Carl 13 episodes
2019 Dolly Parton's Heartstrings Reverend Riggs Episode: "J.J. Sneed"


  1. ^ "Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame - Mac Davis". Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Larkin, Colin, ed. (May 27, 2011). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th Concise ed.). Omnibus Press. pp. 344–345. ISBN 978-0857125958.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Newman, Melinda (September 30, 2020). "COUNTRY: Mac Davis, Iconic Artist & Elvis Songwriter, Dies at 78". Billboard. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Owoseje, Toyin (September 30, 2020). "Mac Davis, Elvis songwriter and country star, dead at 78". CNN. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Wood, Mikael (September 30, 2020). "Mac Davis, hit songwriter for Elvis Presley and '70s solo star, dies at 78". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Moore, Bobby (September 29, 2020). "Country Legend Mac Davis Dead at Age 78". Wide Open Country.
  7. ^ Block, Maxine; Rothe, Anna Herthe; Candee, Marjorie Dent (1981). "Mac Davis". Current Biography Yearbook. Vol. 41. H. W. Wilson Company.
  8. ^ Kerns, William (March 2, 2008). "Mac Davis remembers his days in Lubbock". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Archived from the original on August 14, 2015. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  9. ^ "Elvis Information Network - Mac Davis Interview". Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  10. ^ Young Girls#Background and writing
  11. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 310. ISBN 978-0214204807.
  12. ^ "KHJ Goes Country". November 8, 1980. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  13. ^ a b c "Mac Davis". West Texas Guitar. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  14. ^ Maslin, Janet (August 1, 1979). "Dallas Forty: Cynicism and Comedy". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  15. ^ "Mac Davis: Episode 110". The Muppet Show. Archived from the original on October 31, 2006.
  16. ^ Frym, Michael (August 30, 1993). "The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue". Variety. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  17. ^ Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of No. 1 Adult Contemporary Hits. Billboard Books. p. 91. ISBN 978-0823076932.
  18. ^ a b "Milestones". Time. September 13, 1982. Archived from the original on October 15, 2010. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  19. ^ Buchalter, Gail (May 26, 1980). "Mac Attack! – Mac Davis". People. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  20. ^ Stefano, Angela (September 29, 2020). "'In The Ghetto' Songwriter Mac Davis Dead At 78". Taste of Country. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  21. ^ Hall, Kristin M. (September 30, 2020). "Country star and hit Elvis songwriter Mac Davis dies at 78". Associated Press. Retrieved September 30, 2020.


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