ac Davis had written hits for Bobby Goldsboro ("Watching Scotty Grow"), Elvis Presley ("In The Ghetto"), O.C. Smith ("Daddy's Little Man") and Kenny Rogers and the First Edition ("Somethin's Burnin'") before he got around to writing one for himself.
"My producer, Rick Hall, asked me to write a 'hook' song, one with a repeat phrase which is singles oriented," Davis explained in a 1973 Billboard interview. "So I came up with this phrase 'baby don't get hooked on me.' Hall tells me, 'Now that sounds like a number one record. Let's cut it.' Hell, I hadn't even written it yet. So the band made up a skeleton chord progression: I wrote the song that night and we cut it the next day. I thought it was super-egotistical and pretentious, but Columbia released it as a single anyway."
He was born on January 21, 1942, in Lubbock, Texas. At 10, his father made him sing in the church choir. He didn't form his first rock band until he was a college student in Atlanta, working for the Georgia State Board of Probation during the day and taking classes at night. The band was called the Zotz, and they performed at a roller rink, specializing in Jimmy Reed songs. They also recorded a single, "Rock a Bongo," for a local label.
Before long, two of his songs were recorded, "You're Good for Me" by Lou Rawls and "Within My Memory" by Glen Campbell. In 1968, Elvis recorded four of Davis' songs, "In the Ghetto," "Memories," "Don't Cry Daddy" and "A Little Less Conversation."
To avoid confusion with Mack David, songwriting brother of Hal David, Mac used his son's name, Scott Davis, as well as Mac Scott Davis, for his writing credits. After Elvis took "In the Ghetto" into the Top 10, other artists wanted to record Davis' songs. His early hits included "Little Green Apples" and "Friend, Lover, Woman, Wife" by O.C. Smith, "Somethin's Burnin'" by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition and "Watching Scotty Grow," a song about his son, by Bobby Goldsboro. By the time the Smothers Brothers featured him in the "Poet's Corner" segment of their television series, he was going by Mac Davis.
He was a frequent guest star on television programs in 1970, appearing with Glen Campbell, Red Skelton and Johnny Cash. In 1971 he opened for Nancy Sinatra in Las Vegas and received such rave reviews that he was signed as a headliner for the Sahara hotels in Vegas and Lake Tahoe. Columbia Records signed him in 1971, and NBC-TV asked him to host his own 90-minute late night special, I Believe in Music (his theme song, which became a hit in 1972 for the group Gallery).
Although his chart fortunes faded after a trio of Top 15 hits ("One Hell of a Woman," "Stop and Smell the Roses" and "Rock 'n Roll (I Gave You the Best Years of My Life)"), he remained a popular television attraction. On May 20, 1980, he starred in a one-hour prime time NBC show, The Mac Davis 10th Anniversary Special: I Still Believe in Music.
He left Columbia Records for Casablanca in 1979, the same year he began concentrating on acting. He made his motion picture debut in North Dallas Forty with Nick Nolte. He also starred in Cheaper to Keep Her and The Sting II. In 1992 he made his Broadway debut playing the title character in Will Rogers Follies. The following year Dolly Parton recorded Davis' "Slow Dancing with the Moon" as the title track of a new album, which also included another Davis composition, "Full Circle." In 1994 Davis signed a new recording deal with Columbia Nashville and released Will Write Songs for Food.
Mac went on to star in several other movies including Angel's Dance, The Wendell Baker Story and Deck the Halls, and several TV series -- including a stint on the sitcom Rodney between 2004 and 2006. Mac died during heart surgery on Sept. 29, 2020. He was 78.
- Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard, 1988.
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