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Thread: Interview with Mac Davis

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    Interview with Mac Davis

    Interview with Mac Davis
    By: Elvis Australia - Aug 20, 2005
    Source: Elvis World Japan

    Mac Davis
    Scott 'Mac' Davis was born Jan. 21, 1942 in Lubbock, Texas. During his
    early years in the music business, he lived in Atlanta, where he
    played in a rock & roll band and worked as a regional manager for Vee-
    Jay Records. Although he had enjoyed a measure of songwriting
    achievement before, his big breakthrough occurred in 1969-70 when
    Elvis Presley turned three of his songs, 'In The Ghetto', 'Memories'
    and 'Don't Cry Daddy' into pop hits.

    Q : When did you first see Elvis?

    A : Oh, first time I saw Elvis was actually I saw him at the Lubbock
    County fairgrounds in Lubbock, Texas. And in fact, that first time I
    saw him, he was on the back end of a truck at the Hub Motor Company I
    believe it was parking lot. And there was about fifteen hundred
    screaming kids and mostly girls hanging around there and that's when
    he first had 'That's All Right Mama' out. And about a year later he
    came back to the fairgrounds there and sold out the place. And that
    was a big deal.

    Q : What was your impression on seeing Elvis perform?

    A : Flabbergasted, jaw dropped. Hero, you know. All that stuff. All of
    the above. You know, he was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Of
    course, I was just a kid, you know. So was he.

    Q : Did Elvis inspire you to write songs or be a performer?

    A : Yeah, it was between him and Buddy Holly. It was a lifetime dream
    of mine to write a hit song because Buddy Holly had and, of course,
    Elvis had been my hero and I remember I wrote a song, in fact, called
    'Hooked on Music' that was a number one country song about first verse
    told about hearing Elvis on the radio and it was all very true. It was
    written, you know, it was New Year's Eve, I was fourteen at the time
    and I was celebrating four A-M with them hoodlum friends of mine and I
    heard a boy named Elvis Presley singing 'That's All Right Mama' on the
    radio. And it turned me on and I've been hooked on music from that
    moment on. And that's basically true. And it's pretty amazing to me
    that some fourteen years later my first hit record was an Elvis
    Presley record.

    Q : Tell us how you got the song to Elvis. Was it 'Memories'?

    A : Well, 'Memories' was my first top ten record, but Elvis had cut
    some of my stuff for movies and a guy named Billy Strange, who used to
    work with Nancy Sinatra here in Los Angeles, used to come by my
    office. I worked for a publishing company over in Hollywood and he'd
    come by the office looking for material and we'd shoot the breeze and
    I'd play him songs that everybody else had written and then I'd play
    him some of my stuff, too. And eventually, he was scoring a movie for
    Elvis and they were looking for a song for it and I had a song I
    actually had written for Aretha Franklin and it was called 'A Little
    Less Conversation' but it fit right into the situation in the movie,
    you know. All Elvis' movies in those days was situation, you know. The
    situation led to the song and that's all the movies were written for
    the music, really. And the song fit in there so I just changed a
    couple of words around and that was my first record with him and it
    got in the top fifty or something, top forty. I'm not sure, but that
    was my breakthrough and after that they'd come to me once in a while
    for this or that.

    And I think he got the hungries again, wanted to peform again. And so
    they set up the big TV special in 68, I guess it was, and there was a
    chance for me to write one song for the section where Elvis sat in his
    black leather outfit and sang the old hits from the Sun days. They
    asked me to write a song bookending that, you know, about looking back
    over the years. And I sat up that night at Billy Strange's house and
    started writing about six o'clock in the evening and at eight oclock
    the next morning I had written 'Memories'. And we had to run down and
    do a demo on it that morning and present it to the powers that be and
    it turned out that they cut it and used it in the TV special and that
    became my first top ten record.

    Q : How'd that make you feel Elvis cutting your song?

    A : Pretty good. Pretty good, man. Ride down the street, you know, the
    song playing on the radio, roll your windows down and bet you every
    songwriters done that. I'll tell you a funny story about that. I had
    always one of my dreams not only was to get Elvis to cut a song or
    whatever, become a hit songwriter, but one of my real goals was to
    hear someone whistling a song I'd written. You know, somebody that
    didn't know me, just walking around whistling it. And the first time
    it happened I was at the Palomino Club, the country club out here in
    Los Angeles. Now defunct, I believe. But I was back in the men's room
    and I heard a guy whistling the B side of 'Memories', which was a
    theme song I wrote for one of his movies called 'Charro' and I
    recognized the melody and I went, 'Hey, what are you whistling?' He
    says, 'Charro' or something like that. Oh, man, it was the B side. I
    bet nobody ever heard it but that guy and me. Anyway.

    Q : When you wrote 'Charro' were you given a song title?

    A : I was just given the script and Elvis was doing the movie and
    Billy Strange, I guess, was doing the music and said see if you can
    come up with something. So I came over, typical 1960s type of theme
    song for a movie. '[Singing] You left behind the eyes of other men, Da-
    da-da-da, Charro!' I can't even remember it now. I'm sure they had to
    pretty much hog tie Elvis to get him to cut it but that was the days
    when he did what the studio told him to do.

    Q : When did you have your first meeting with Elvis?

    A : First time I actually met him, it was the day I met the Colonel
    when Elvis was recording some song I'd written for one of his movies.
    I'm not sure if it was probably 'A Little Less Conversation'. And I
    went over to the studio to watch him record it and went along with
    Billy Strange and Colonel Parker was there and Elvis was just having
    fun with the gang and all the Memphis boys and Colonel Parker was
    sitting over here in a, like a theater seat. They had a row of chairs
    there. It was like a row out of a theater. And Colonel Parker had the
    only cushion. And somebody said 'The Colonel wants to meet you'. And I
    said, 'You're kidding'. You know, I said, 'Okay'. And I ran over there
    and he says, 'You the boy that wrote this song?' And I said, 'Yes,
    sir'. He goes, 'What's your name?' And I said, 'Mac Davis'. He says,
    'Bend over here and let the Colonel rub that curly head of yours'. And
    I said, 'Excuse me?' And all the Memphis boys says, 'Hey, let him do
    it'. So I did it and he rubbed my head and he said, 'Now you can tell
    anybody that Colonel Parker rubbed your head. You're gonna be a

    And I still have an old painting that the Colonel gave me long after
    Elvis dies. He came to see me at the Hilton when I had gone in there
    and it was the first time the Colonel had been back to the Hilton
    since Elvis had passed away. And he brought me this old painting and
    he had signed on the bottom of it, 'To Mac Davis whose curly head I
    once rubbed and told him he was gonna be a star. Signed, Colonel
    Parker'. And it was a copy of a painting. I thought it was typical of
    the Colonel. He says, 'This is my favorite painting of Elvis and I
    took the paper off of it'. It was a copy like on cardboard or
    something and it had a plastic frame on it and still had one of those
    little fluorescent lights attached to it at the top with the cord
    hanging off. So I've got it up in the attic somewhere.

    Q : What was your inspiration for writing 'In the Ghetto'?

    A : 'In the Ghetto', I'd been trying to write for years. I grew up
    with a little boy who lived in the ghetto and in Lubbock, Texas. We
    didn't have what is commonly known now as a ghetto, but there was
    problems worse. It was a dirt street ghetto. And it was a part of town
    I could never understand why my little buddy had to live over there
    and I lived where I lived. And his dad did construction work with my
    dad and then a little boy named Al Smith really kind of grew up
    together. And I'd always wanted to write a song about it and really
    the word ghetto didn't even come into prominence until the late
    sixties, other than referring to Jewish ghettos in Poland and as such.
    And I had always wanted to write a song called 'The Vicious Circle'. I
    always thought it was like, you know, the kids are born there, they
    grow up there, they die there, another kids born to replace them and
    just one day I started thinking about the ghetto as a title for the
    song. And the same day, a friend of mine named Freddy Weller showed me
    a lick on the guitar that he was playing and I thought it seemed like,
    and I took it home that night and I wrote this song. And that's where
    it came from, basically.

    Q : Were you pitching it to Elvis? How did Elvis find it?

    A : Elvis, I didn't, actually nobody even dreamed of pitching it to
    him in the beginning. Anything, if they asked me if I had a song and
    Elvis was cutting, I mean, I gave them everything I had. And that's
    what they were after the special did so well, I went on down to
    Memphis to do an album and Chips Moman was producing it and they
    called and asked if I had anything, you know, for Elvis and I said,
    "Sure." So I sent them a tape. They had nineteen songs on it and they
    recorded the first three songs on there. 'In the Ghetto', 'Don't Cry,
    Daddy' and another song called 'Poor Man's Gold', which they never did
    release. But 'Don't Cry Daddy', Elvis had told me that the first time
    I went over to his house he was gonna record that. I played it to him
    over there. I'll never forget him. They got real quiet, you know.
    'Don't Cry Daddy' is a pretty sad song. He got to the end of it and it
    was just real quiet and Elvis says, 'I'm gonna cut that someday for my
    daddy'. And, by god, he did. He lived up to his word.

    Q : Did Elvis ever tell you about 'In the Ghetto'?

    A : We never talked about 'In the Ghetto' that I know of. I don't
    remember having a conversation with him about it. Next time I saw
    Elvis after that was at the Memphian Theater and at that time I was
    finally getting some notoriety as a performer. I'd done the Johnny
    Carson show some and this and that and I was doing a college concert
    in West Memphis, Arkansas and Joe Esposito or somebody called me and
    said Elvis wants you to come to the Memphian Theater and see a movie
    with us and so I went over there after my concert and found the place.
    I got me some popcorn and a glass of beer and walked down through the
    aisle. Then I see Elvis sitting in the middle of the theater. He was
    with Linda Thompson. And I just went down to that row and stepped
    across the fellow that was sitting on the end of the row and went down
    there and sat down next to Linda on the other side of him and said,
    'Hi'. And we sat and talked and laughed throughout the whole movie and
    we never did talk about music. It was the first time I'd really sat
    down with Elvis and got to know Elvis as a person. And he was just
    like a big old kid, you know. It was like he never got past nineteen,
    I don't think, in a lotta ways.

    And we sat and laughed and had a great time.

    He was a cool guy. He was a great guy. Laughed, you know, easy laugh,
    nice guy. . And I'm sure that Elvis was happy for me. I think he was
    the kind of guy that enjoyed other peoples success, especially if he
    had something to do with it. And, you know, I never tried to ride his
    coattails or anything but I've always given him credit for all the
    good things that have happened in my life.

    Q : What type of impact did Elvis have on your career?

    A : Well, you know, if you look at my early pictures, performing on
    stage in Vegas, you'll see I've got on one of those Bill Belew suits
    with the sequins and stuff. And, of course, it was never as nice as
    Elvis's because Bill Belew would have lost his gig if he'd have made
    me one as nice as Elvis'. But I had two or three of those things made.
    And he made a huge impact. Every performer who ever performed in rock
    and roll or even close to it is lying if they tell you that they
    weren't influenced in some way or another by Elvis Presley. He turned
    the world around. I mean, he turned music around singlehandedly.

    Q : Why do you think Elvis is still so popular?

    A : This I don't know. If I knew that, I'd probably be the president
    of a great big record company but I'm not. And I think it was just
    that Elvis came along at a time he made it okay for white guys to sing
    black music. He made it okay for, I don't know. He really just changed
    the face of music when he came out. You know, he made it all right to
    wiggle and shake your hips and be sexual and sensual with music and
    still be a nice clean cut fellow and, you know, someway and another,
    he made that all come together and pulled it off.

    Q : I had a lot of fun interviewing you. Thanks a lot. [quote]

    Copyright by Elvis Australia

  2. #2
    International Level RS277's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Re: Interview with Mac Davis

    Good read. Thanks for posting !!
    If your an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary....
    If your not, no explanation is possible!

  3. #3
    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Re: Interview with Mac Davis

    Mac is a great guy great songwriter-don't here much about him anymore.
    Work in Progress!

  4. #4
    Cadillac King memphis69's Avatar
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    Sep 2008

    Re: Interview with Mac Davis

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