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In 1968, Elvis Presley recorded Davis' "A Little Less Conversation," and soon after the King was requesting more of his work. After notching a Top 40 hit with Davis' "Memories," Presley reached the Top Five in 1969 with the songwriter's "In the Ghetto," a single from the landmark From Elvis in Memphis LP. Davis also arranged the music for Presley's first television special before signing his own recording contract in 1970. In that year, he released his first chart single, "Whoever Finds This, I Love You," from his debut album, Song Painter.
In 1972, Davis scored a number one pop hit with "Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me," which also reached the country Top 20. His crossover success continued throughout the decade, with singles like 1974's "Stop and Smell the Roses," 1975's "Burnin' Thing," and the following year's "Forever Lovers" scoring with listeners in both camps. Between 1974 and 1976, Davis hosted a musical variety show for NBC television, followed by a string of specials; in 1979, he also starred in the film North Dallas Forty with Nick Nolte.
Davis' success continued in the early '80s; "It's Hard to Be Humble," the title track of his 1980 album, was the first of four consecutive Top Ten country hits that culminated with his biggest country single, "Hooked on Music," the next year. In 1980, he also starred in a TV movie, Cheaper to Keep Her. However, a co-starring role opposite Jackie Gleason and Karl Malden in 1983's disastrous The Sting II effectively ended Davis' career in Hollywood, and by 1985, he had recorded his last Top Ten hit, "I Never Made Love (Till I Made Love With You)." In 1990, Davis made a comeback as a songwriter, co-authoring Dolly Parton's hit "White Limozeen"; that same year, he also took over the title role in the Broadway hit The Will Rogers Follies. Will Write Songs for Food, his first LP in nearly a decade, appeared in 1994. ~ Jason Ankeny