In honor of what would’ve been legendary songwriter Mac Davis’ 79th birthday, Outsider is taking a look back at a few of his best moments.
Born in Lubbock, Texas, Davis was a songwriter, entertainer, and actor who began his decades-long career in the early 1960s.
His work as a songwriter spawned dozens of hits by equally legendary artists such as Nancy Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Reba McEntire, Tom Jones, Kenny Rogers, Merle Haggard, and more.
He released 19 albums over 25 years, beginning with Song Painter in the 1970s and concluding with Will Write Songs For Food in 1994.
The Song That Put Davis on the Songwriting Map
“Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me” would give Davis the breakthrough he had been tirelessly working towards. Davis featured the song on his album of the same name. The song reached No. 1 on both the “Billboard Hot 100” and “Easy Listening” charts in September 1972, where it spent three weeks at the top of each chart.
Billboard ranked it as the 1972’s No. 8 song of the year. Davis wrote it when the record company demanded he writes a tune with a “hook.”
During the decade, the release of “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me” proved Davis’ determination to have a successful career as a recording artist. In 1972, he scored his first Grammy nomination for the song.
Davis Awarded ‘Entertainer of The Year’
In 1974, the Academy of Country Music awarded Davis with the “Entertainer of the Year” award. His work on songs such as “Stop and Smell the Roses,” “One Hell of a Woman,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll (I Gave You the Best Years of My Life)”, and “Burnin’ Thing” were all contributing factors to the win.
During his acceptance speech, a humble Davis admitted he wasn’t sure why he had won.
“I almost swallowed my chewing gum,” he joked as he took the podium to accept the award, adding, “I didn’t have nothin’ planned to say.”
“I know one thing: at ceremonies like these, there’s always a lot of people, when somebody gets an award like this, saying, ‘I wonder how come he got it,'” Davis continued. “Well, I’m in the same boat with you. Thank you so much.”
Mac Davis’ Work With ‘The King’
Arguably, Davis is most known for his collaboration with the king of rock-n-roll, Elvis Presley. Davis garnered the attention of Presley after he noticed him working with Sinatra and gaining steam in the pop music community.
One of the numerous songs he wrote Presley, called “A Little Less Conversation,” was recorded in 1968 and would become a posthumous success for Presley several years later.
Davis also worked on the famous song “In the Ghetto” in recording sessions based in Memphis. According to producer Jimmy Bowen, the track was originally pitched to Sammy Davis, Jr.
Davis eventually laid down his version of the song after Presley’s version became a hit. Davis released his rendition in a Ronco In Concert compilation in 1975. The song became a success for Presley. He continued to record more of Davis’s material, such as “Memories,” “Don’t Cry Daddy,” and “Clean Up Your Own Backyard.”
Mac Davis’ Acting Career
During the 1970s, Davis had a television variety show on NBC, The Mac Davis Show. In 1970, he made his feature film debut alongside Nick Nolte in North Dallas Forty. Davis proved to be a “jack of all trades” when he was listed as one of 12 “Promising New Actors of 1979.”
In 1980, Davis hosted an episode of The Muppet Show. He performed “Baby, Don’t Get Hooked On Me”, “It’s Hard To Be Humble”, and “I Believe in Music.”
He starred in the 1981 comedy film Cheaper To Keep Her, playing a divorced detective who worked for an attorney.
In 1998, Davis starred in the sports comedy Possums, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. He played the role of balladeer for the 2000 telefilm The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood, replacing Don Williams.
Davis was even awarded a star symbol on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Mac Davis’ Induction into Songwriters’ Hall of Fame
Davis’ success would culminate in 2006 when he became inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.
Former BMI President & CEO Frances Preston introduced Davis at the ceremony.
“My first remembrance of Mac Davis was from a very early Nashville music festival,” Preston reminisced. “I knew at that moment that Mac Davis was going to be one of America’s greatest songwriters.”
Davis was also an inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. He was also recipient of the BMI Icon Award.