Kenny Chesney is one of many country artists to know Mac Davis as both hero and friend. The 1974 ACM Entertainer of the Year died on Tuesday (Sept. 29) after a short hospitalization. He's remembered as a talented songwriter, a cherished friend and a dedicated family man.

Chesney, a 2000s hitmaker, recalls Davis befriending him early on in his career and making him feel like his art mattered, even though Davis had written for Elvis Presley, appeared in his own television show and recorded dozens of his own songs, many of which became country and pop hits.

"That was Mac: a giant heart, quick to laugh and a bigger creative spirit," Chesney writes. "I was blessed to have it shine on me.⁣"

Travis Tritt, Lee Greenwood and TG Sheppard also shared their heartbreak over Davis' deatah on social media. Jake Owen points out how Davis' talent truly spanned generations, noting that the singer and actor — 78 years old when he died — had written for Presley and Avicii during his dynamic career.

"More importantly, he was a great husband and a father," Owen says. "My thoughts and prayers go out to his family."

Both the CMA and ACM Awards noted Davis' unexpected death, with the latter sharing video of his Entertainer of the Year win, given in 1975.

Davis' surprise in winning the honor was sincere, as at that time he'd not had a hit on country radio, but he'd had several crossover hits and his own television show (The Mac Davis Show on NBC) by that point. "In the Ghetto" and "A Little Less Conversation" were already hits for Presley by 1974, but his song "Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me" was relatively new. It'd become a No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit, but stopped just inside the Top 30 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Davis' first country Top 10 wouldn't come until 1980.

Per Davis' manager, his death came following complications after heart surgery in Nashville earlier in the week. He leaves behind his wife of 38 years, Lise, and three sons, Scott, Noah and Cody, as well as grandchildren.

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