Mac Davis, the writer of Elvis Presley‘s “In the Ghetto” and a former ACM Entertainer of the Year winner, has died. He was 78 years old.
Davis died on Tuesday (Sept. 29), just one day after news broke that he was critically ill after undergoing heart surgery in Nashville. His manager of more than 40 years, Jim Morey, originally shared the news of Davis’ decline and announced his death late Tuesday night:
Born Morris Mac Davis in Lubbock, Texas, on Jan. 21, 1942, Davis graduated high school early and moved to Atlanta, Ga., where his mother was living following his parents’ divorce. After forming a rock band and working at a couple of record labels, Davis began his songwriting career as part of Nancy Sinatra’s Boots Enterprises, Inc.; he also played in the studio and live with Sinatra during this time.
After writing songs including “In the Ghetto” and “A Little Less Conversation” for Presley in the late 1960s, Davis went on to enjoy a country crossover career of his own thanks to songs such as “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me” and “Stop and Smell the Roses.” Much of his success on country radio came after he won the ACM Entertainer of the Year award in 1975.
Davis notched six Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart; “Hooked on Music” from 1981 charted the highest, at No. 2. He also earned four Top 10 hits on the all-genre Hot 100 chart. Davis is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Davis was also a prolific actor: In addition to starring in various TV specials, he had his own show, The Mac Davis Show, from 1974 to 1976. Davis continued to pick up acting roles throughout the 1980s, ’90s and early 2000s, on King of the Hill, That ’70s Show and Rodney, among others. His most recent acting credits on IMDB include a role in Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings in 2019.
News of Davis’ death made its way through Nashville on Tuesday night, with John Schneider and Travis Tritt among those who shared the news on social media. The artist leaves behind his wife of 38 years, Lise, and three sons, Scott, Noah and Cody, as well as grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.
Country Artists Who’ve Died in 2020: