Elvis songwriter Mac Davis dies at 78

Mac Davis, pictured with his wife Lise Kristen Gerard at 2015's Nashville Country Awards, has died.
Mac Davis, pictured with his wife Lise Kristen Gerard at 2015's Nashville Country Awards, has died.

Mac Davis, the US singer-songwriter who wrote hits for Elvis Presley and parlayed a successful pop and country career into a network TV variety show, has died. He was 78.

His manager of nearly four decades, Jim Morey, announced Davis' death on Facebook on Tuesday night.

"He was a music legend but his most important work was that as a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend," Morey wrote.

Davis' family had released a statement on Monday saying: "We are sorry to report that legendary singer/songwriter Mac Davis is critically ill following heart surgery in Nashville. Your love and prayers will be deeply appreciated at this time."

Davis found fame as the songwriter behind the Elvis Presley hits 'In the Ghetto', 'A Little Less Conversation' and 'Memories' before reaching No.1 himself on the Billboard Hot 100 with 'Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me' in 1971.

His easy charm made him a favourite on the talk-show circuit, and he was rewarded with his own NBC variety series, 'The Mac Davis Show', from 1974-76, followed by annual network Christmas specials that spanned well into the 1980s.

Davis also pursued an acting career, starring as Nick Nolte's fellow leading man in the 1979 football drama 'North Dallas Forty'.

His last screen role was as Reverend Riggs in 2019's 'Dolly Parton's Heartstrings', a show produced by Parton, his friend and fellow country star of many decades.

Davis has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

He played with Nancy Sinatra on stage and on record in the late 1960s, and it was her publishing company, Boots, that published the hits he wrote for Presley.

Australian Associated Press