The former governor of Louisiana who served two terms began writing songs in the mid-1930's without knowing how to read or write music. The self-taught guitarist caught the ear of an RCA talent scout and his music career took off from there. In addition to "You Are My Sunshine," first recorded in 1940, Davis wrote songs like "Nobody's Darling But Mine," "It Makes No Difference Now," "Honky Tonk Blues," "Take My Hand" and hundreds more. His own renditions did well, attracting artists like Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, Guy Lombardo and the Andrews Sisters to record his songs.
Over the next 60 years, "You Are My Sunshine" was recorded by more than 350 artists, sold millions of records and was translated into 30 languages. It is easily one of the world's most recognizable songs and in 1977, legislature decreed that "You Are My Sunshine" would share honors as Louisiana's state song with "Give Me Louisiana." The song also received the Towering Song Award from the Songwriter's Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Davis is survived by his second wife, country singer Anna Gordon, and a son, James. Asked late in life how he wanted to be remembered, he replied: "As someone who scattered a little sunshine along his path."