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 music. Typically, the slower the tempo of a Davis record, the longer it took to reach its peak position. 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. In the mid-1980s, he also had two country #1 hits as a guest vocalist on songs by Marie Osmond and Tanya Tucker.
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 song "A Little Bit of Soap", reaching No. 52 on the Billboard pop charts. 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 No. 23 on 18 January 1975. The same song also became a Top 40 Country hit for Juice Newton in 1984. Davis also reached No. 35 with "Superstar", a tribute song not related to any of the 1971 hits by that name, on 25 September 1976.
Davis had his first American Top 10 single with the ballad "I Go Crazy," which after 28 weeks on the Hot 100 peaked at No. 7 on 18 March - 1 April 1978. "I Go Crazy" spent 40 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, which at the time set the single-song record for most weeks, consecutive or not, on that chart. The follow-up, "Sweet Life", also did well, peaking at No. 4 on the Adult Contemporary chart and No. 17 on the Pop chart. The corresponding album Singer of Songs - Teller of Tales was a modest success, peaking at No. 82 on the Billboard pop album chart. Davis peaked at No. 23 with the gospel-tinged "Do Right" on 17 May 1980. He was the last artist active on the Bang Records label when it folded in 1981.
After one more album on the Bang label, Davis signed with Arista Records in 1981 and scored two more Top 15 singles, "Cool Night" (which in January 1982 reached No. 11 on the Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Adult Contemporary chart) and "'65 Love Affair" (a major Top 10 hit on both Pop and Adult Contemporary charts). His Arista debut album spawned a third hit with Davis' 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, this single version had never been reissued on any CD including the various Davis anthologies that have been released on CD, until Wounded Bird reissued the Best of Paul Davis compilation in 2011. Davis retired from making records for a time, except for two duet singles that went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles charts. 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 No. 1 on the Billboard Country chart in 1985, and "Bop", a solo No. 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. Davis was not touring at the time and it was generally thought that had he been touring and still supported by a record label the song could have been a national hit.
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." To date these 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 for inclusion of future films. Additionally, Davis was very versatile with sampling and using the Synclavier and Fairlight CMI.
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 died from a heart attack at the Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi.
Country music singer Charly McClain's song, "Best That Never Was", was specially written and dedicated to Davis on her 1983 album Paradise.
Davis was an avid golfer.
Davis' father was a preacher.
Davis was also an avid pocket billiard enthusiast. As a member of Music City Amateur Billiard Tour in Nashville, he was competitive in the late 1990s.