Paul Lavon Davis (April 21, 1948 – April 22, 2008) was an American singer and songwriter, best known for his radio hits and solo career which started worldwide in 1970. His career encompassed soul, country, and pop. His most successful songs are 1977's "I Go Crazy", a #7 pop hit which once held the record for the longest chart run on the Billboard Hot 100, and 1982's "'65 Love Affair", which at #6 is his highest-charting single. Another pop hit, "Cool Night", was also released in 1982. In the mid-1980s, he also had two country #1 hits as a guest vocalist on songs by Marie Osmond and Tanya Tucker.
Paul Davis was a member of a local group called the Six Soul Survivors around 1966 and later in another group called the Endless Chain. In 1968 he was a writer for Malaco Records, based in Jackson, Mississippi. Ilene Berns, widow of Bert Berns, signed Davis to Bang Records in 1969, and in 1970, released a cover version of The Jarmels' hit "A Little Bit of Soap", reaching #52 on the Billboard pop chart. His first album, A Little Bit of Paul Davis, was released in 1970. In 1974, he recorded his third album, Ride 'Em Cowboy, and the title track, his first top 40 single, peaked at #23 on January 18, 1975. (The same song became a Top 40 Country hit for Juice Newton in 1984.) Davis also reached #35 in September 1976 with "Superstar", a tribute song not related to any of the 1971 hits by that name.
Davis had his first American Top 10 single with the ballad "I Go Crazy," which after 30 weeks on the Hot 100 peaked at #7 on March 18, 1978. "I Go Crazy" spent 40 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, which at the time set the record for most weeks on the chart. The follow-up, "Sweet Life", also did well, peaking at #17. On May 17, 1980, his gospel-tinged "Do Right" peaked at #23, and Casey Kasem noted the religious aspects of this song, along with other songs before it, on that day’s edition of American Top 40. Davis was active on Bang Records when the label folded in the early 1980s.
After one more album on the Bang label, Davis signed with Arista Records in 1981 and scored two more hits, "Cool Night" (which in February 1982 reached #11 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart) and "'65 Love Affair" (a Top 10 hit on both charts). His Arista debut album spawned a third hit with a remake of "Love or Let Me Be Lonely". The single contained a third verse of music which was not included on the album version, and despite its Top 40 and AC success, had never been reissued on any CD release until Wounded Bird reissued the Best of Paul Davis compilation in 2011. Davis retired from making records for a time, except for two duets that went to #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. The first was in 1986 with Marie Osmond singing "You're Still New to Me"; while the second, in 1988, was a collaboration with Tanya Tucker and Paul Overstreet singing "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love". Davis also wrote "Meet Me in Montana", which his friend Dan Seals and Osmond took to #1 on the Billboard country chart in 1985, and "Bop", a solo #1 country hit for Seals in early 1986. Davis recorded a duet with Marsha Morgan called "Looking for a Light" which was well received regionally in the southeast. Before his death on April 22, 2008 (one day after his 60th birthday), Davis had returned to singing and songwriting by recording two songs, "You Ain't Sweet Enough" and "Today". They have not been released. Through the years, Davis was heavily influenced by technology. He owned numerous synthesizers and spent a great majority of his spare time at his home composing music that he hoped would be used in future films. Additionally, Davis was very versatile with sampling and using the Synclavier and Fairlight CMI.
Many of his songs, including his best known hits, are owned by Paul McCartney through his MPL Publishing company.
Paul Davis survived a shooting in Nashville, Tennessee on July 29, 1986. He was leaving a hotel on Music Row with a female companion when an unidentified man walked up, demanded his wallet, and shot him in the abdomen.
Davis was an avid golfer, and was also an avid billiards enthusiast. As a member of Music City Amateur Billiard Tour in Nashville, he was competitive in the late 1990s. Additionally, his father was a preacher.
Davis was once married to Pamela Gayle Jay Davis, who enjoyed a brief career with Bang Records/Web IV Music in Atlanta, GA where her husband Paul was writing and recording his songs. When their only son Jonathan was born, Pamela left her job in the music world to dedicate the following 38 years to his care, spending every day seeing to his special needs. Pamela died on March 20, 2017.
Davis died of a heart attack at the Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi on April 22, 2008, a day after his 60th birthday.
1970-1971: Fender Rhodes electric piano, Yamaha grand piano, RMI Electra, Farfisa Organ, Hammond B-3 organ, Moog synthesizer, EMS Synth
1972-1974: Minimoog, ARP 2500, ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey Mark 1, Moog Opus 6, Hammond B-3 organ, Fender Rhodes, Yamaha grand piano, EMS VCS3 Synthi
1975-1976: Minimoog, ARP 2500, ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey Mark 1, Korg MiniPops drum machine, Polymoog, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Solina, EMS VCS3 Synthi
1977-1979: Minimoog, Polymoog, Yamaha CS-80, Korg MiniPops drum machine, EMS VCS3, EMS Vocoder 2000, ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey, Yamaha grand piano, Hammond B-3 organ. (After 1978: Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 & 10, Fairlight CMI, Fender Rhodes, Solina and ARP Rhodes Chroma synthesizer.)
1980-1982: Fairlight CMI, Oberheim 8-voice, OB-X, OB-8, Yamaha CS-80, Yamaha grand piano, Minimoog, Polymoog, Memorymoog, Moog Source, ARP 2600, EMS Vocoder 2000, NED (New England Digital) Synclavier, LINN (Roger Linn) drum machine, E-MU Emulator, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 & 10, Roland Jupiter 8, TR-808 drum machine, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hammond B-3 organ.
|Year||Album||Peak chart positions|
|1970||A Little Bit of Paul Davis||—||—||—|
|1974||Ride 'Em Cowboy||148||19||—|
|1976||Southern Tracks & Fantasies||—||—||—|
|1977||Singer of Songs: Teller of Tales||82||—||77|
|1982||The Best of Paul Davis||—||—||—|
|1993||Very Best of Paul Davis -- I Go Crazy||—||—||—|
|1999||Sweet Life: His Greatest Hit Singles||—||—||—|
|2011||The Best of Paul Davis (expanded version of 1982 LP)||—||—||—|
|2015||The Very Best of Paul Davis (Varese Sarabande compilation)||—||—||—|
NOTE: All albums are available in CD format
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1970||"A Little Bit of Soap"||52||27||—||60||—||16||—||A Little Bit of Paul Davis|
|"I Just Wanna Keep It Together"||51||34||—||38||—||47||—|
|"Can't You"||118||—||—||—||—||—||—||Single only|
|1973||"Boogie Woogie Man"||68||—||—||—||—||—||—||Paul Davis|
|1974||"Ride 'Em Cowboy"||23||4||47||30||6||49||—||Ride 'Em Cowboy|
|1975||"Keep Our Love Alive"||90||—||—||—||—||—||—||Single only|
|1976||"Thinking of You"||45||31||—||—||—||—||—||Southern Tracks & Fantasies|
|1977||"I Go Crazy"||7||25||—||4||—||62||—||Singer of Songs - Teller of Tales|
|"Cry Just a Little"||78||36||—||—||—||—||—||Paul Davis|
|1981||"Cool Night"||11||2||—||34||—||78||23||Cool Night|
|1982||"'65 Love Affair"||6||5||—||11||—||71||13|
|"Love or Let Me Be Lonely"||40||11||—||—||—||—||—|
|1987||"You're Still New to Me"||Marie Osmond||1||1||I Only Wanted You|
|1988||"I Won't Take Less Than Your Love"||Tanya Tucker
||1||10||Love Me Like You Used To|
|"Sweet Life"||Marie Osmond||47||55||All in Love|
|1984||"(It Takes) Two to Tango"||The Karate Kid||-|
|1987||"If We Can Get Through The Night"||About Last Night...||-|