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Singer, songwriter and actor Mac Davis dead at 78

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Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images

Singer, songwriter and actor Mac Davis passed away after complications following heart surgery in Nashville on Tuesday. The 78-year-old was surrounded by his family at the time, according to his longtime manger, Jim Morey.

On September 28, Davis’ longtime friend Dolly Parton retweeted a message asking for “love and prayers”… revealing the influential singer, songwriter and actor was “critically ill.” 

Through the years, Davis and Dolly appeared on TV together many times. Dolly also recorded a number of his songs, and the two duetted on the White Limozeen track “Wait’ll I Get You Home.”

Born in Lubbock, Texas, Davis was a talented studio guitarist who broke through in 1969 when his compositions “In the Ghetto,” “Memories,” and “Don’t Cry Daddy” were recorded by Elvis Presley.

That paved the way for more smash hits as a songwriter, including “Something’s Burning” by Kenny Rogers & the First EditionBobby Goldsboro‘s “Watching Scotty Grow,” and “I Believe in Music,” which was first cut by the band Gallery.

By 1972, Davis topped both the country and pop charts himself with “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me.” His other hits included “Stop and Smell the Roses,” “Texas in My Rearview Mirror,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll (I Gave You the Best Years of My Life),” and the 1980 novelty song, “It’s Hard to Be Humble.” 

Davis’ last big country hit was the 1985 top-10 single “I Never Made Love (Till I Made It with You).”

Davis’ chart success earned him his own TV variety show, The Mac Davis Show, which premiered on NBC in 1974 and aired for two years.  He made his big-screen debut in 1979 opposite Nick Nolte in the football-themed North Dallas Forty. His other movies included The Sting II, Possums, and Cheaper to Keep Her. 

Davis also starred on Broadway in the title role of The Will Rogers Follies, and appeared in TV shows like Rodney, 8 Simple Rules and King of the Hill. In 2000, he served as the balladeer — a role previously filled by Don Williams and Waylon Jennings — in the TV movie The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood.

Picking up the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year honor in 1974 proved to be one of many accolades that cemented Davis’ place in history. He got his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998, followed by an induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000, before entering the national Songwriters Hall in 2006.

By Stephen Hubbard
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