Sammy Davis Jr. was a man of many trades, working as a singer, tap dancer, musician, impressionist, and comedian, so it comes as no surprise that the Rat Pack member also dabbled a little bit in country music over the course of his career.
Davis released a country album in the 1980’s that has been known by many titles throughout the years, including The Country Side Of Sammy Davis Jr. and Sammy Davis Jr. Sings Great Country Hits, but it was originally titled Closest of Friends.
On the album, Davis covered big country hits such as “Come Sundown” and “Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends” by Kris Kristofferson and “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke (That Cigarette)” by Tex Williams and Merle Travis.
The album was the result of one of Davis’ last trips to the recording studio, before he passed away in 1990 due to complications from throat cancer. But even though Davis’ country album was not a huge success, he still had his fair share of notable “country” moments.
In honor of Davis’ 90th birthday on December 8, we’ve chosen to celebrate his life and legacy with his top two “country” moments.
The Rifleman was a popular American Western TV program that ran from 1958-1963, and centered on the widowed rancher Lucas McCain and his son, Mark. While The Rifleman was on air, over 500 guest stars made appearances on the show, including Davis.
In 1962, Davis appeared on the show twice, as the character Wade Randall in the episode “The Most Amazing Man,” and as a character named Tip Corey in the episode titled “Two Ounces Of Tin.”
In the clip below, Davis is playing the part of his character Tip Corey, who shows off his gunslinging skills to main character Mark McCain.
Although neither Davis nor “Moon River” singer Andy Williams were country music artists, that didn’t stop the duo from pairing up for a country-style duet in 1963.
Wearing cowboy hats, gun holsters, and western shirts, Davis and Williams look right at the camera and show off their best cowboy walk.
After a short countdown, Davis and Williams start singing the 1936 Bing Crosby song “I’m An Old Cowhand (From The Rio Grande).” Even though the song has a jazzy style, the Western Writers of America chose Crosby’s version of the song as one of the Top 100 Western Songs of All Time.
Davis and Williams laugh and joke around throughout their duet, at one point climbing on a pair of mechanical horses to finish out the song.
Davis may not have been a country music star, but he still had many memorable “country” moments in his life. Through those moments, and the many other incredible parts of Davis’ career, his legacy is still alive today.
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