DAILY, HAROLD W. [PAPPY]
DAILY, HAROLD WESTCOTT [PAPPY] (1902–1987). Harold Westcott (Pappy) Daily, record producer, music publisher, and promoter of Texas music, was born in Yoakum, Texas, on February 8, 1902. His father died when Daily was still a child. His mother soon remarried and moved the family to Houston. At age sixteen he left Central High School to join the Marine Corps. Discharged after two years, he began working for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Around the same time he began playing baseball. From the mid 1920s until 1931, he dabbled in baseball management and even launched a new baseball team called the Freeport Tarpons.
When the Great Depression forced the Southern Pacific to lay off many of its workers, Daily sought a job with more security. He soon found it in the amusement-machine business. At first he kept his job with the railroad and worked part-time distributing jukeboxes. In 1933, he borrowed $250 from a Southern Pacific coworker to open a store. Before long he had his own jukebox distributing company, known as South Coast Amusement Company, in Houston. Although he never read sheet music or played an instrument, Daily developed an ear for country music by listening to the records in his jukeboxes. Shellac rationing during World War II restricted the production of jukeboxes and records. Undaunted, Daily gathered as many records as he could and opened a record store in Houston. He claimed to have brought the first Capitol record into Texas in 1942. In 1952 Daily and his business partner, Jack Starnes, founded the Starday label. Daily paired artists with songs and supervised recording sessions. The most notable stars to sign with Starday include George Jones, Roger Miller, Benny Barnes, and Frankie Miller. He also helped launch the careers of J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, Johnny Preston, and others.
By 1958 Daily had sold his interests in Starday and began producing and managing his own Houston based label, D Records. He hoped this line would serve as a regional subsidiary for Mercury Records, with which he had established a working relationship as George Jones's producer. The two companies reached an agreement by which, if a D Records recording began selling well in Texas, Daily would lease the record to Mercury for national distribution. During the next twenty years D Records released hundreds of songs, including a couple of early recordings by Willie Nelson and George Strait. J.P. Richardson "The Big Bopper's" 1958 recording of "Chantilly Lacy" became Daily's biggest seller. Although the label typically recorded Texas honky-tonk music, it also covered western swing, rockabilly, Tex Mex, Cajun, and polka music. Pappy recorded his last session in February 1971 in Nashville with George Jones. During the 1970s and 1980s he remained active only with his publishing company, Glad Music Company, founded in 1958. Glad was still an active company in the 2000s, with rights to such classics as "White Lightnin'," "She Thinks I Still Care," "Chantilly Lace," "Night Life," and "The Party's Over."
Several members of the family carried on his musical legacy. In 1958 Pappy sold his record-distributing company, H. W. Daily, Inc., to his sons, Bud and Don, who opened Cactus Music and Video in Houston in 1975 and operated the store until their retirement in 2006. Daily died on December 5, 1987, in Houston and is buried at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery in that city. After his death Bud and Don also took over the D Records catalog. Pappy's grandson, Mike Daily, began a successful career playing steel guitar for George Strait's Ace in the Hole Band in 1975. His grandson Wes Daily revived the D Records label in 2002.
Andy Bradley and Roger Wood, House of Hits: The Story of Houston's Gold Star/SugarHill Recording Studios (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010). Mike Daily, Interview by Linda Hellinger, February 2 and March 15, 2000. David Edwards, Mike Callahan, and Patrice Eyries, “The Starday Records Story” (http://www.bsnpubs.com/starday/stardaystory.html), accessed November 1, 2015. Houston Chronicle, December 7, 1995. “The Pappy Daily Story,” Glad Music Company (http://glad-music-publishing-and-recording.myshopify.com/pages/the-pappy-daily-story), accessed November 1, 2015. John Pugh, "Pappy Daily, a Legend in His Own Time: The Last of the Red Hot Pappies," Music City News, January 1971.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Linda Hellinger, "DAILY, HAROLD W. [PAPPY]," accessed May 24, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdaaf.
Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on December 14, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.