Harold W. Daily (February 8, 1902 – December 5, 1987), better known as "Pappy" Daily, was an American country music record producer and entrepreneur who cofounded the Texas-based record label Starday Records. Daily worked with many of the well-known artists in country music during the 1950s and 1960s especially George Jones, who looked upon him as a father figure as well as a business advisor. Other artists Daily worked with include Melba Montgomery (signed by Daily following recommendation by Jones), J. P. Richardson (the Big Bopper), and Roger Miller.
Harold W. Daily
|Also known as||Pappy Daily|
|Born||February 8, 1902|
|Died||December 5, 1987|
|Occupation(s)||Record producer, music publisher|
Daily was born in Yoakum, Texas at the beginning of the twentieth century. His mother remarried soon after Daily's father died when Daily was a child and the family relocated to Houston. After his military service, Daily was involved in many different lines of business including working on the railroads and the amusement machine business. Later he started his own venture distributing jukeboxes and it is during this period that he discovered his appreciation of country records from listening to the early hits being played on his own machines. During World War 2 he opened his first record outlet in Houston.
He entered the country music scene in the early 1930s although he had no previous professional background in music and wasn't an accomplished musician or singer himself. It was his business acumen and his ability to nourish talent in others that were his strong points. Daily didn't rise to prominence though until helping found Starday in 1953.
A career in the music businessEdit
Daily founded Starday Records with Jack Starnes and it grew to become one of the most successful independent labels from Texas in the 1950s. It was in the mid 1950s, when Starday signed up George Jones, that Daily became a figure in country music. Together with Don Pierce (who replaced Starnes at Starday), Daily worked extensively with George Jones to further the career of Jones until they came to the attention of Mercury Records who wanted Jones and the Daily/Pierce partnership. Daily's agreement with Mercury allowed him to continue with his Starday venture and other independent labels, licensing any promising records back to Mercury for the larger label to market and distribute. As a record producer at Mercury, he worked on a succession of hits for Jones. Jones later asserted that he and the Nashville studio musicians did most of the actual production work on his recordings and that Daily, with whom Jones eventually fell out, primarily made sure the session paperwork was in order.
In 1961, Daily and Pierce ended their partnership and at the end of 1961 Daily left Starday and Mercury to go to United Artists, becoming their country & western director. Jones, who had followed his mentor to United Artists, had more big hits working with Daily but Daily failed to progress anyone else's career to the same extent as he did with George Jones.
Daily also founded the Musicor Records label in the 1960s with Art Talmadge and George Jones was their biggest name.
Daily also founded a label with the unusual one-letter name "D" Records focussing on Texas acts but none of them matched his previous success. In 1965, he closed D Records and left United Artists to concentrate his efforts on Musicor, signing artists of the calibre of Gene Pitney. George Jones and Gene Pitney were by far the biggest names on the Musicor label so by the time the 1970s arrived, with Pitney no longer making records and Jones moving on to Epic Records, Musicor was left without any names big enough to make the label viable.
In 1967, on the recommendation of Kitty Wells and Roger Miller, Daily teamed young guitarist Zane Ashton (aka Bill Aken) with United Artist country singer Kathy Dee, who had just hit with "Don't Leave Me Lonely Too Long." Ashton was to produce Kathy's next three records. Elvis used to call Ashton 'The Fixer' due to his ability to 'fix' a mediocre sound track with his guitar work. The sound tracks the young guitarist produced for Progressive Sounds Of America were four of the most innovative of the period. These productions, along with those done for Ray Price and Eddy Arnold, helped usher in the use of big string sections on country music records. Cliffie Stone of Capitol Records said, "The wall has been breached and soon violins in country music will be an everyday thing". Sadly, Kathy Dee had a stroke and never finished the recordings. By the mid 1970s Daily had quit producing records to concentrate on his music publishing company with Musicor fading from the scene.
Pappy Daily also owned Big State Distributors in Dallas, Texas—the wholesale distributor of over 100 independent labels including Atlantic, London, Roulette, A&M, Scepter, Deram, Rolling Stone and the entire Motown group (Motown, Tamala, Gordy) with artists such as The Supremes, Diana Ross, The Jackson 5, Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye. The company had 5 salesmen (and they were all men in the 1970s).
Pappy Daily died December 5, 1987 in Houston and is buried in the city. His sons and grandson are still active in the music business.