Scott Mac Davis (January 21, 1942 – September 29, 2020) was an American country music singer, songwriter, and actor.
Born in Lubbock, Texas, he was the son of Edith (nee Lankford) and Thomas “TJ” Davis. His father, a builder, owned an apartment complex called the College Courts, where Davis lived with his parents and sister, Linda. He described his father as “very religious, very strict and very stubborn”. A keen football player, he often found himself involved in fist fights. He graduated from Lubbock high school aged 16, and left the city to move in with his mother in Atlanta, she having divorced and remarried.
Inspired by the example of Lubbock’s most famous son, Buddy Holly, whom he recalled seeing driving through Lubbock in a brand new black and pink Pontiac convertible, Davis angled to break into the music business and, after dabbling with a local Atlanta band, the Zots, he joined the Vee-Jay record company in 1961 before being hired as a regional manager for Liberty Records in 1965.
In 1966 he became a plugger for Liberty’s music publishing division in Hollywood, trying to sell other writers’ songs while also slipping in demo recordings of his own material. He was subsequently hired as a staff writer by Nancy Sinatra’s fledgling publishing company B-n-B Music and was able to place his material with artists including Bobby Goldsboro, Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, OC Smith and Sinatra herself. He also performed frequently in her stage shows.
In 1968, Elvis Presley recorded Davis' "A Little Less Conversation," and soon the King was requesting more of his work. After notching a Top 40 hit with Davis' "Memories," Presley reached the Top Five in 1969 with the songwriter's "In the Ghetto," a single from the landmark From Elvis in Memphis LP. Davis also arranged the music for Presley's first television special before signing his own recording contract in 1970. In that year, he released his first chart single, "Whoever Finds This, I Love You," from his debut album, Song Painter.
Presley took In the Ghetto to No 3 on the US chart in 1969, with Don’t Cry Daddy reaching No 6 later the same year. Both songs reflected Davis’s personal experiences. Don’t Cry Daddy recalled the breakup of his parents’ marriage, while In the Ghetto was based on memories of his Lubbock childhood, when he used to play with a young black boy and gained an early inkling of the social ills of poverty and racism. In the Ghetto triggered a major comeback for Presley after several fallow years, and has since been recorded by more than 170 artists, including Dolly Parton, Solomon Burke, Sammy Davis Jr and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.
In 1970 Davis wrote I Believe in Music while at a party at Lulu and Maurice Gibb’s home in London. He also wrote the song "Watching Scotty Grow", which Bobby Goldsboro made a #11 hit single in early 1971. In 1972, Davis scored a number one pop hit with "Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me," which also reached the country Top 20. Davis was named Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music.
His crossover success continued throughout the decade, with singles like 1974's "Stop and Smell the Roses," 1975's "Burnin' Thing," and the following year's "Forever Lovers" scoring with listeners in both camps. Between 1974 and 1976, Davis hosted a musical variety show for NBC television, followed by a string of specials; in 1979, he also starred in the film North Dallas Forty with Nick Nolte.
Davis' success continued in the early '80s; "It's Hard to Be Humble," the title track of his 1980 album, was the first of four consecutive Top Ten country hits that culminated with his biggest country single up to that point, "Hooked on Music," the next year. In 1980, he also starred in a TV movie, Cheaper to Keep Her. A co-starring role opposite Jackie Gleason and Karl Malden in 1983's disastrous The Sting II effectively ended Davis' career in Hollywood, and by 1985, he had recorded his last Top Ten hit, "I Never Made Love ('Til I Made Love with You)."
After a period of alcoholism and rehab, he made a breakthrough on Broadway when he took over the title role in the musical The Will Rogers Follies in 1992, an event he described as “the biggest turnaround in my life”. In 1994 he released his final album of original material, Will Write Songs for Food. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006 and was still able to inspire younger artists well into his eighth decade.
More recently, after years of inactivity on the charts, Mr. Davis enjoyed a revival as a songwriter, collaborating with Bruono Mars with whom he wrote the 2012 pop hit “Young Girls” which was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Mac Davis died in a Nashville hospital on September 29, 2020, falling ill after heart surgery; he was 78 years old. He was buried in Lubbock, Texas. (Edited from The Guardian & AllMusic)