Singer/songwriter Mac Davis died on Sept. 28 at age 78, and Vince Gill paid tribute to him during his set at the Grand Ole Opry on Oct. 3. Gill performed a cover of "In the Ghetto," which Davis wrote. The song was recorded in 1969 by Elvis Presley and was released as part of Presley's comeback album, becoming a major hit.
Gill performed the song solo, accompanying himself on the guitar. "In the Ghetto," tells the story of a child born in the ghetto, growing up learning to steal and fight. He buys a gun and steals a car, tries to run but is shot and killed. The song ends with another child being born in the ghetto and the implication that the cycle of poverty and violence will continue. As Gill played, a black and white photo of Davis appeared on the screen behind him.
Davis wrote several other songs for Presley as well as songs for artists like Nancy Sinatra and Kenny Rogers and The First Edition. He signed with Columbia Records in 1970 and began releasing his own music, becoming a crossover success with songs like "Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me" and "Stop and Smell the Roses." He was also an actor and hosted his own variety show on NBC, The Mac Davis Show, from 1974 to 1976. Davis was named ACM Entertainer of the Year in 1974, and in 1998, Davis earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2000 and the National Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York in 2006.
His death was confirmed by his manager, Jim Morey. "It's with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Mac Davis," Morey wrote in a statement, sharing that Davis was "surrounded by the love of his life and wife of 38 years, Lise, and his sons Scott, Noah and Cody."
"Mac has been my client for over 40 years, and more importantly.. my best friend," he continued. "He was a music legend but his most important work was that as a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend. I will miss laughing about our many adventures on the road and his insightful sense of humor. When there was a tough decision to be made he often told me 'You decide. I'm going to the golf course!'"