Strait is a talented singer. One of the reasons he has achieved
his level of success he has is owed to the H. W. Daily Family. Known
as "Pappy," Harold W Daily born in Yoakum,
Texas in 1902 was brought to Houston
as a child by his mother. H W Daily was 18 when he got a job as
an accountant for Southern Pacific Rail Road. He worked there for
13 years and during that time decided to attempt to make a better
living with music in Jukeboxes. On a part-time basis he had formed
the South Coast Amusement Co. and when Bally offered him local distributorship
of their Jukeboxes he accepted it.
Pappy Daily worked hard at distributing Jukeboxes to restaurants,
cafes, bars and night clubs. He kept them outfitted with the latest
popular records. Then in 1941 when World
War II involved America it was more difficult with rationing
and shortages but that work continued.
In 1946 after the War, Pappy opened Daily's Record Shop in the Heights
on 11th Street. This served several purposes. It gave him another
way to sell record inventory he had on hand for his jukeboxes that
were being phased out. A radio station KNUZ hosted by Biff Collie
promoted weekly remote broadcasts featuring artists currently appearing
in town. The public was invited to have contact with singers at
Daily's Record Shop. Pappy's sons Bud and Don were in their 20's
and were working in the record business. Pappy's response to this
opportunity was to open more record stores locally. Following that
he opened Big State Distributing in Dallas.
In 1950, the Korean War Draft interfered with all American males
that had just graduated from High School. While Don served in the
armed forces Erna Ruth King and Don were married. A beautiful young
lady, she was a graduate also of Reagan High School. After Don's
military service Pappy's sons worked with their dad. Mike Daily,
a grandson of Pappy Daily was born in Houston
in 1955. In 1958 Pappy sold the Daily Record shop business to his
sons Donald (Mike's father) and Bud (H W Daily, Jr.). Mike lived
and breathed in a house dominated by music and records 24/7. When
Mike Daily and George Strait came together in 1976 their individual
life's experiences helped each other leap frog past new comer pot
holes on their road to fame.
By 1958 Pappy realized he liked finding new music talent because
he was good at developing new talent. He could now step away from
the record shop responsibility, which he wanted his two sons to
continue. Pappy Daily began functioning as a prototype A and R man
by matching up Artist songs and supervising Recording sessions.
Now there were basically two businesses operating under the Daily
roof. In his new function Pappy needed "Show People" around him
from the music business.
Those people included Gabe Tucker, a musician and among other things
a front man for Elvis and later Eddy Arnold. Also his wife, Sunshine
Tucker had the talent of making strangers comfortable with each
other. There was Ted Daffan a song writer who wrote ""Born to Lose""
a timeless hit performed by Ray Charles and he also wrote "Blue
Steel Blues" an instrumental written for the steel guitar. Steel
Guitar Rag was big at that time.
Mike's influence for playing steel guitar came from the then 1970's
southern California country-rock genre of his favorite bands like
Poco, the Flying Burrito brothers, the Byrds, Crosby, Stills Nash
and Young, Gram Parsons and Asleep at the Wheel. Other well known
people then included Hank Williams, George Jones, Hank Locklin,
Red Sovine, Herb Remington, Melba Montgomery, Jerry Jerico, Lefty
Frizzell and many more. Any of these people could be wandering around
the offices where Mike also mingled and observed these stars up
When the Astrodome opened in 1965 the Houston Astros began playing
MLB there. Pappy Daily and his wife Gladys had several season tickets
which many people shared with them. A popular question between innings
was why Pappy named his company GLAD Music? It is an acronym from
his wife's full name, Gladys Louise Andrews Daily.
asked Pappy to help getting a steel guitar for Mike because Mike
wanted to learn to play. Pappy asked his friend Shot Jackson, a
player he had used on recording sessions to ship Mike a SHO-BUD
beginner's steel guitar. Shot and Buddy Emmons owned a company SHO-BUD
named for themselves as owners/designers. They manufactured steel
guitars that use pedals to shift tone and pitch. The resulting musical
effect became known as the NASHVILLE SOUND. Mike began taking
lessons from Tommy Christian in 1973. Tommy worked at Brook Mays
store near Southwest Freeway at Chimney Rock. Mike credits him specifically
with correcting his technique.
College in San
Marcos gave Mike and Tommie Foote from Houston
a chance to mingle with other musicians and they formed a band.
A singer hired their band and called it "Stoney Ridge". He had a
regular Sunday night gig at Cheatham St WHarehouse. After
about a year and a half the singer lost his gig so he fired the
band. Now to keep working the band needed a singer.
The band members and Mike put a notice on the University student
center bulletin board. They received a call from a guy looking for
a band. He had been in a country band in the Army and was back now
to attend school. The band played some songs and he sang great because
he was George Strait. Simultaneously, on the same bulletin board
George had put up a notice "Needing a band". Their mutual needs
brought them together to perform as George Strait and the Ace
in the Hole Band.
Mike's dad Don Daily heard and realized George's potential. Don
decided to gamble by recording a few records. During the time it
took for these recording to work their magic they played the typical
honky tonks and private party circuit.
The recording of George and the Ace in the Hole band by "D Records"
recordings were George's first studio recordings. However they had
little or no bearing on Georges major record label deal. What really
helped was Don Daily introduced his friend Erv Woolsey to this singer
that a band his son was in had just hired. Erv being an old record
business guy had just bought and re-opened a country nightclub in
Marcos. That friendship and timing helped to get the band with
George Strait a gig at Erv's club. As Erv heard and saw the young
George Strait perform he subsequently helped him get a record deal
with MCA. Erv is still George's manager today.
George Strait made several trips to Nashville trying to get a record
deal. On his 3rd trip MCA offered a recording deal for 3 singles
and if the singles went good an album would follow. There is no
proof an agreement made back in the 1960's by Pappy Daily, helped
George and the band Mike was in was going places. But is a fact
that now in their sixth year together they did go large.
In this agreement Pappy sold his Starday Records interest, created
D Records as Texas subsidiary for Mercury. When a D Record began
selling in Texas Pappy Daily could lease it to Mercury for national
distribution. George's first single UNWOUND went to No. 5 on BillBoard.
Although the exact timeline is uncertain reading the Record Companies'
History is like trying to sort out a can of worms. Whether Pappy
was still working with Mercury during the time of the Ace in the
Hole Band and George Strait was never mentioned. The rest is history.
At the Republic of Texas 7th Annual Chilympiad in 1976 George Strait
and the Ace in the Hole Band was the main entertainment.
In 1975 Don, 44 and Bud, 47 launched Cactus Records a large retail
record store near Westheimer and Shepherd a prized retail location.
That began a 20-year sensationally popular record shop operation.
That success required the 1978 construction of new offices and warehouse
for support to be built on Brinkman St.
George Strait was named the Male Vocalist of the year in 1984. At
the age of 32 George was recognized as being on the top of the heap.
During the decade of the 80's, George Strait and his singing ability
was gaining traction and backed by the Ace in the Hole Band he could
confidently concentrate on his singing. He knew they would deliver
his backup music. Observers of country music stars know how important
the band is to the development and appeal of the singer. Willie
Nelson owes his long career in part to Paul English drummer and
Mickey Raphael harmonica members of his Family band.
Pappy Daily died at age 85, in 1987. And the next year at the age
of 57 Don Daily was diagnosed as having Parkinson's disease. To
help reduce the workload on Bud now 61, part of the business was
sold off to ETD (East Texas Distributing).
Don and Bud retired in 2006 passing the business to their primary
survivors Mike and Wes Daily. In 2010 Harold Westcott ""Bud"" Daily,
Jr. died at the age of 82. In 2013 Donald Michael ""Don"" Daily
died 2 months from being the age of 82.
The Ace in the Hole band is still (as always) George Strait's traveling
Band. George will continue to travel on a reduced tour schedule
and produce recording annually on demand. As a lifelong friend and
associate of Don Daily and his family I felt it was my obligation
to tell the Daily Family Story to illuminate their place in Houston
and Texas history.