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Interview with Mac Davis Part 1

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 were about fifteen hundred screaming kids and a mostly girl hanging around their 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’s movies in those days were 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 hungriness again, wanted to perform 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 recognised 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.

Source: Elvis World Japan

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