Introduction to Paul Davis

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Paul Davis life and music at a glance

The late Paul Davis was an American singer-songwriter and musician. He achieved two Top Ten singles “I Go Crazy” and “65 Love Affair.” He had been involved in a couple of music groups before going solo in 1969. His debut album A Little Bit of Paul Davis was released by Bang Records, but to little fanfare. But his third album, Ride ’em Cowboy, produced an adult contemporary hit which was the title track; it even got into the Top 40 chart, his first-ever such feat. His single in 1977, “I Go Crazy,” achieved as the only single to have stayed very long on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It peaked at #7 after spending 28 weeks on the chart.

After Bang, Davis was signed to Arista Records, where he would also score another Top 10 hit “65 Love Affair,” which peaked at #6. Davis was also known for his duets with Marie Osmond (“You’re Still New to Me”), and Tanya Tucker (“Down to My Last Teardrop”, a #2 country hit in 1991). Davis had also written or co-written many songs (some with Paul Overstreet) for other artists aside from Osmond and Tucker – Dan Seals, Happy Mondays, Lee Greenwood, and others. Davis died of a heart attack in 2008.

Early music career

Paul Lavon Davis was born in Meridian, Mississippi on April 21, 1948. Aside from being a singer and songwriter Davis was also a keyboardist/pianist.

Based on many sources, it appears that Davis started quite young in the music industry, in 1958. When he was about twelve years old, Davis achieved his first charting single “One of Her Fools” which made a dent on the country singles chart. By the mid-1960s, he had been playing for a local club band Six Soul Survivors, and then moved on to other groups like the Endless Chain and his own country rock band the Reivers. He had had a very minor hit with the Reivers — the self-penned single “Revolution in My Soul” in 1970.

Davis under Bang Records

Ilene Berns, widow of songwriter/Bang Records founder Bert Berns, spotted Davis while he was playing with the Reivers. She signed him to Bang in 1969. Davis released his first single on Bang which was a cover of the Jamels’ previous hit single “A Little Bit of Soap” (which was penned by Bert Berns). It was a minor hit at #52 on the Hot 100 in 1970. Its album, (Davis’ debut) A Little Bit of Paul Davis, released to little fanfare. His eponymous second LP in 1972 still went pretty much into the same result.

As we say, third time’s the charm. Davis released his third LP Ride ‘Em Cowboy in 1974; its title track gave him his first Top 40 pop hit (at #23). It also became his first Top 10 hit on the adult contemporary singles chart at #4. Ride ‘Em Cowboy LP peaked at #148 on the Billboard 200 and #19 on the country albums chart, making it his first charting album on any rankings.

His 1976 album Southern Tracks and Fantasies yielded another Top 40 pop single “Superstar” at #35. The following year, Davis released his fifth LP Singer of Songs: Teller of Tales which gave him his first Top 10 pop hit “I Go Crazy.” The soft rock ballad went to #4 on the Hot 100 and #25 on the adult contemporary singles chart. “I Go Crazy” had appeal that helped the single remain on the charts for a total of 40 weeks. Another decent hit off Southern Tracks and Fantasies “Sweet Life” peaked at #17 pop and #7 adult contemporary.

Move to Arista Records

When Bang Records folded, Davis moved to Arista Records in 1981 and in that same year recorded and released his seventh LP Cool Night. It was to become his most successful album ever, peaking at #52 on the Billboard 200. The resulting album was more slick and “poppier” than his previous efforts. The album yielded three Top 40 hits: “Cool Night” (#11 pop, #2 adult contemporary), “’65 Love Affair” (#6 pop, #5 adult contemporary) and his Friends of Distinction cover “Love and Let Me Be Lonely” (#40 pop, #11 adult contemporary).

Later career: return to country

However, Davis returned to country, where he felt he more comfortable. He had virtually retired from making his own records except for country music duets with Marie Osmond with “You’re Still New to Me” (#1 country, 1986) and Tanya Tucker “Down to My Last Teardrop,” (#2 country, 1991). He also collaborated again with Tucker, this time together with Paul Overstreet with “I Won’t Take Less Than Your Love” (#1 country in 1987). He also wrote material for other artists such as Dan Seals, Happy Mondays and Lee Greenwood.

Davis was making a comeback bid in 2008 where he recorded a couple of new songs he had just written, “You Ain’t Sweet Enough” and “Today.” However, his return was cut tragically short as he suffered a fatal heart attack on April 22, just a day after his 60th birthday. He died in Meridian, Mississippi, the place where he was born.

In 2011, a greatest-hits compilation The Best of Paul Davis was posthumously released.

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