Country legend and Elvis Presley songwriter Mac Davis has died aged 78.

The musician - who co-wrote several tracks with the late King of Rock and Roll, including 1968 hit 'A Little Less Conversation' - passed away after falling "critically ill" during heart surgery on Tuesday (29.09.20), his manager Jim Morey has confirmed.

In a Facebook statement, he wrote: "It's with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Mac Davis. He was surrounded by the love of his life and wife of 38 years, Lise, and his sons Scott, Noah and Cody.

Mac has been my client for over 40 years, and more importantly.. my best friend.

"He was a music legend but his most important work was that as a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend.

"I will miss laughing about our many adventures on the road and his insightful sense of humor.

"When there was a tough decision to be made he often told me 'You decide.. I'm going to the golf course!' To quote from his song I Believe in Music.. 'I could just sit around making music all day long. As long as I'm making my music ain't gonna do nobody no harm. And who knows maybe I'll come up with a song.'

And he did...time after time. (sic)"

Tributes have flooded in for the trailblazing star, including a touching piece by Kenny Chesney, who Davis worked with, who remembered him as having "a giant heart".

He told Variety: "I met Mac as a young artist just starting out on my journey, when he was already a legend and a songwriting hero to me. He welcomed me into his home, and turned that tremendous creative light on me. Even though he'd written 'In The Ghetto' for Elvis and had so many incredible hits of his own, he made me feel like what I was doing mattered. A small town boy who'd achieved the greatest kinds of fame, he remained a good guy, a family man. That was Mac: a giant heart, quick to laugh and a bigger creative spirit. I was blessed to have it shine on me. And Mac, who was joyous, funny and created a family around him, never stopped writing great songs, creating music and inspiring everyone around him. He loved his wife Lisa and his kids, and all kinds of people. He kept in touch, always a kind word, a new joke or a piece of song he was working on, which made him a blessing to everyone who came into his life."

Richard Marx tweeted: "This is such a drag. RIP to the incredible #MacDavis. Thank you for your incredible songs and your kindness to me. It was an honor to hear you tell me stories. (sic)"

Country icon Dolly Parton had sent her well wishes to Davis after she heard he was seriously unwell.

Retweeting the news from the official Mac Davis Twitter page, she wrote: "#PrayForMacDavis."

Davis started out writing for Elvis and produced his hits 'Memories', 'In the Ghetto' and 'Don't Cry Daddy'.

He went on to have his own successful solo career, and had a major hit with 'Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me', which topped the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts in 1972, and spent three weeks at number one.

Davis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000 and awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Away from music, Davis had his own television variety show on NBC, 'The Mac Davis Show'.

And was named one of 12 "promising new actors" in 1979, following his debut feature film starring alongside Nick Nolte in 'North Dallas Forty'.

He later starred on the big screen in movies such as 'Angel's Dance', 'The Wendell Baker Story' and 'Deck the Halls', and several TV shows - including a stint on US sitcom 'Rodney' between 2004 and 2006.

Davis also starred in the titular role of Will Rogers in the Broadway production of 'The Will Rogers Follies'.