Paul Davis (singer)

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Paul Davis
Davis on the cover of his 1980 self-titled album
Davis on the cover of his 1980 self-titled album
Background information
Birth namePaul Lavon Davis
Born(1948-04-21)April 21, 1948
Meridian, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedApril 22, 2008(2008-04-22) (aged 60)
Meridian, Mississippi, U.S.
Instrument(s)Vocals, keyboards
Years active1958–1988
LabelsBang, Arista

Paul Lavon Davis (April 21, 1948 – April 22, 2008)[1] was an American singer and songwriter, best known for his radio hits and solo career that started worldwide in 1970. His career encompassed soul, country, and pop. His most successful songs are 1977's "I Go Crazy", a No. 7 pop hit that once held the record for the longest chart run on the Billboard Hot 100, and 1982's "'65 Love Affair", which at No. 6 is his highest-charting single. Another pop hit, "Cool Night", was released in 1981. In the mid-1980s, he also had two No. 1 country hits as a guest vocalist on songs by Marie Osmond and Tanya Tucker.

Early life, family and education[edit]

Davis was born in Meridian, Mississippi, US.[2] His father was a preacher.[3]


Paul Davis was a member of a local music group, the Six Soul Survivors, around 1966 and later in another group, the Endless Chain. In 1968, he was a writer for Malaco Records, based in Jackson, Mississippi. Ilene Berns, widow of Bert Berns, signed Davis to Bang Records in 1969, and in 1970, released a cover version of The Jarmels' hit "A Little Bit of Soap", reaching No. 52 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2] His first album, A Little Bit of Paul Davis, was released in 1970. In 1974, he recorded his third album, Ride 'Em Cowboy, and the title track, his first top 40 single, peaked at No. 23 on January 18, 1975.[2] (The same song became a Top 40 Country hit for Juice Newton in 1984.) Davis also reached No. 35 in September 1976 with "Superstar", a tribute song not related to any of the 1971 hits by that name.[2]

Davis had his first American Top 10 single with the ballad "I Go Crazy", which after 30 weeks on the Hot 100 peaked at No. 7 on March 18, 1978.[2] "I Go Crazy" spent 40 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100,[2] which at the time set the record for most weeks on the chart. The follow-up, "Sweet Life", also did well, peaking at No. 17. On May 17, 1980, his gospel-tinged "Do Right" peaked at No. 23, and Casey Kasem noted the religious aspects of this song, along with other songs before it, on that day's edition of American Top 40. Davis was active on Bang Records when the label folded in the early 1980s.[4]

After one more album on the Bang label, Davis signed with Arista Records in 1981 and scored two more hits, "Cool Night" (which in February 1982 reached No. 11 on the Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Adult Contemporary chart) and "'65 Love Affair" (a Top 10 hit on both charts).[2] "Cool Night" has been listed as an example of yacht rock.[5] His Arista debut album spawned a third hit with a remake of "Love or Let Me Be Lonely". The single contained a third verse of music which was not included on the album version, and despite its Top 40 and AC success, had never been reissued on any CD release until Wounded Bird reissued the Best of Paul Davis compilation in 2011. Despite his success during this time frame, Davis grew increasingly disillusioned with the industry. Davis retired from making records in 1983, except for two duets that went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. The first was in 1986 with Marie Osmond singing "You're Still New to Me";[2] while the second, in 1988, was a collaboration with Tanya Tucker and Paul Overstreet singing "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love". Davis also wrote "Meet Me in Montana", which his friend Dan Seals and Osmond took to No. 1 on the Billboard country chart in 1985, and "Bop", a solo No. 1 country hit for Seals in early 1986. Davis left the music industry for good in 1988.

Personal life and death[edit]

Davis was married to Pamela Gayle Jay Davis, who enjoyed a brief career with Bang Records/Web IV Music in Atlanta, where Davis was writing and recording his songs. When their only son, Jonathan, was born with developmental problems, Pamela retired from the music world to care for him. She died on March 20, 2017.[6]

Davis was an avid golfer,[7] and was also an avid billiards enthusiast.

Paul Davis survived a shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 29, 1986. He was leaving a hotel on Music Row with a female companion when an unidentified man approached, demanded his wallet, and shot him in the abdomen.[8]

Davis died of a heart attack at the Rush Foundation Hospital in his hometown Meridian, Mississippi, on April 22, 2008, a day after his 60th birthday.[1]



Year Album Peak chart positions
US US Country CAN
1970 A Little Bit of Paul Davis
1972 Paul Davis
1974 Ride 'Em Cowboy 148 19
1976 Southern Tracks & Fantasies
1977 Singer of Songs: Teller of Tales 82 77
1980 Paul Davis 173
1981 Cool Night 52


Year Single Peak chart positions Album Release date
1970 "A Little Bit of Soap" 52 27 60 16 A Little Bit of Paul Davis March 12, 1970
"I Just Wanna Keep It Together" 51 34 58 47 August 21, 1970
"Can't You"[10] 118 Single only November 20, 1970
1972 "Boogie Woogie Man" 68 Paul Davis December 15, 1972
1974 "Ride 'Em Cowboy" 23 4 47 30 6 49 Ride 'Em Cowboy September 26, 1974
1975 "Keep Our Love Alive" 90 Single only May 13, 1975
1976 "Thinking of You" 45 31 Southern Tracks & Fantasies March 23, 1976
"Superstar" 35 31 53 August 11, 1976
1977 "I Go Crazy" 7 25 4 62 Singer of Songs – Teller of Tales June 29, 1977
1978 "Darlin'" (with Susan Collins) 51 37 March 23, 1978
"Sweet Life" 17 7 85 15 August 10, 1978
1980 "Do Right" 23 4 64 Paul Davis March 11, 1980
"Cry Just a Little" 78 36 June 19, 1980
1981 "Cool Night" 11 2 34 78 23[11] Cool Night October 28, 1981
1982 "'65 Love Affair" 6 5 11 71 13[11] February 22, 1982
"Love or Let Me Be Lonely" 40 11 July 13, 1982

Guest singles[edit]

Year Single Artist Peak positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1986 "You're Still New to Me" Marie Osmond 1 1 I Only Wanted You
1987 "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love" Tanya Tucker
(with Paul Overstreet)
1 10 Love Me Like You Used To
"Sweet Life" (re-recording) Marie Osmond 47 55 All in Love

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

Year Song Soundtrack Additional information
1984 "(It Takes) Two to Tango" The Karate Kid
1987 "If We Can Get Through The Night" About Last Night...


  1. ^ a b Livingston, Brian (April 23, 2008). "Recording star Paul Davis dies Tuesday at age 60". The Meridian Star.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 643. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  3. ^ Kasem, Casey (January 21, 1978). American Top 40.
  4. ^ Joel Whitburn Presents: The Billboard Hot 100 charts, The Seventies; Joel Whitburn's Top Pop singles: 1955–2010
  5. ^ Browne, David (June 22, 2021). "Yacht Rock: Album Guide". Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  6. ^ "Pamela Gayle Jay Davis Obituary". The Meridian Star. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  7. ^ Brennaman, Chris (April 2, 2008). "Remembering Paul Davis". WTOK-FM. Archived from the original on June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  8. ^ "Singer Paul Davis shot". The Gainesville Sun. July 31, 1986. p. 2A.
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 83. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ "Can't You" at Discogs
  11. ^ a b "The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Retrieved August 22, 2021.

External links[edit]