Mac Davis, who penned Elvis’ ‘In the Ghetto,’ dead at 78

Singer and songwriter Mac Davis, who wrote some of Elvis Presley’s most acclaimed songs, died Tuesday at the age of 78.

His longtime manager Jim Morey said in a news release that Davis died Tuesday in Nashville after heart surgery and was surrounded by family and friends.

Davis' death was confirmed by his family.

Davis was an accomplished and recognized country and crossover star, with solo hits including “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me,” “Stop and Smell the Roses,” and “One Hell of a Woman.” In 1974, he was named Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music, topping nominees such as Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard. That same year, he was nominated for Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association. Davis also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Davis launched his career crafting Presley hits “A Little Less Conversation” and “In the Ghetto.”

Born in Lubbock, Texas, and raised in Georgia, Davis was inspired by fellow Lubbock native Buddy Holly, but it was Elvis who gave him his first big break. Davis worked as a staff songwriter in Los Angeles for Nancy Sinatra’s publishing company when in 1968 Presley cut “A Little Less Conversation.”

Although it had a little success at the time, the song became a bigger hit after Presley’s death, being covered by more than 30 artists, and became Davis' most licensed TV soundtrack song. The song reached the top of the UK charts in 2002 after it was used in a Nike commercial and was featured in the hit movie “Ocean’s 11.”

Davis, who reportedly graduated from South DeKalb High School, also helped craft the song “Memories” that was a cornerstone of Elvis' big 1968 comeback TV special.

Davis got a recording deal of his own in 1970, recording “Hooked on Music,” “It’s Hard to be Humble” and “Texas in my Rearview Mirror,” and getting crossover success on pop charts. He had his own TV series, “The Mac Davis Show” on NBC and also acted in TV and film, including alongside Nick Nolte in the football film “North Dallas Forty.” He even starred on Broadway in “The Will Rogers Follies” and toured with the musical. The group Gallery had a hit on his song “I Believe in Music.”

He also wrote songs recorded by Kenny Rogers (“Something’s Burning”), Dolly Parton (“White Limozeen”) and Ray Price (“Lonesomest Lonesome”). He was still writing later in life, getting co-writing credits on songs by Avicii ( “Addicted to You”) and Bruno Mars (“Young Girls.”)

The Associated Press contributed to this report.