Paul Davis

Mississippi singer and songwriter Paul Davis enjoyed a long and diverse career in the music business, but will always be best remembered for a handful of hit singles he released in the '70s and '80s, most notably "I Go Crazy," which reflected the influence of both country and vintage Southern soul. Paul Lavon Davis was born in Meridian, Mississippi on April 21, 1948. Davis grew up with a strong interest in music, and began playing in local bands like the Six Soul Survivors and the Endless Chain when he was in his teens. In 1968, Davis' gifts as a tunesmith earned him a gig as a staff songwriter with Mississippi's Malaco Records. By 1970, Davis scored a minor regional hit with "Revolution in My Soul," a country-rock number he sang, wrote, and co-produced for White Whale Records under the group name the Reivers, and later that year he fared even better when Ilene Burns, widow of the well-respected songwriter and record man Bert Berns, offered him a contract with her late husband's label, Bang Records. Davis' first single for Bang was a cover of the Jarmels' 1961 hit "A Little Bit of Soap," which rose to number 52 on the Billboard singles chart. The single's success led to the release of Davis' first album, 1970's A Little Bit of Paul Davis, and Davis would turn out three more albums for Bang (1972's Paul Davis, 1974's Ride 'Em Cowboy, 1976's Southern Tracks & Fantasies) and more minor hit singles (1974's "Ride 'Em Cowboy," 1976's "Thinking of You" and "Superstar") before scoring his career-defining hit in 1977. "I Go Crazy," from the album Singer of Songs -- Teller of Tales, rose to number seven on the Billboard singles chart, and would stay in the Hot 100 for 40 weeks, setting a record that would stand until 1982. After one more album for Bang (1980's Paul Davis, which featured the Top 30 single "Do Right"), Davis signed with Arista Records and cut his most successful album, 1982's Cool Night, which peaked at number 52 on the LP charts and included three hits singles, "Cool Night," "'65 Love Affair" (which was his highest charting single, rising to number six), and "Love Me or Let Me Be Lonely." However, despite its success, Cool Night proved to be Davis' last album; he popped up on the country charts in the mid- to late '80s, singing duets with Marie Osmond (1986's "You're Still New to Me") and Tanya Tucker (1988's "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love"), but after being shot during an attempted robbery in Nashville in 1986, Davis stepped back from the spotlight and concentrated on songwriting rather than performing. In the new millennium, Davis reportedly upgraded his home recording studio and began using synthesizers to write and record new material, but before he could strike a deal to release his new songs, Davis succumbed to a heart attack, which claimed his life on April 22, 2008, only a day after he turned 60. ~ Mark Deming

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