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Houston Scores Big Time In Latest Editon Of Encyclopedia Of Country Music: Part 2

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Ted Daffan: While he came into country music as a sideman, Ted Daffan would become one of the earliest mainstream hit-makers from Houston. He became so influential that The Encyclopedia says Daffan "helped usher in the modern era of country songwriting."

He was also one of the best-selling artists of the 1940s. Before initially making his way to country music via legendary Houston icons Leon "Pappy" Selph and the great songwriter/guitarist Floyd Tillman, Daffan's first musical love was Hawaiian steel music.

With the help of a popular radio program, Daffan and his Blue Islanders were hitting Houston hard when the Western Swing craze eclipsed most other music fads. Joining Selph and Tillman in the Blue Ridge Playboys (1934), Daffan quickly mastered the new idiom and began writing country songs and, early on, almost single-handedly inventing what became known as "truckers songs" when Cliff Bruner cut Daffan's "Truck Driver's Blues" in 1939.

It sold over 100,000 copies and brought Daffan to the attention of Columbia Records, leading to a solo career. By 1941, Daffan had formed the Texans, which featured two accordionists and an electric lead guitar that gave Daffan a unique sound vis a vis the other fiddle-and-steel dominated country bands. Once with Columbia, Daffan produced hits with "Worried Mind" and "I'm a Fool To Care."

But his two-sided follow-up, "Born To Lose" b/w "No Letter Today" sold two million copies and made Daffan a major country star. Daffan's band was much in demand on the West Coast for a number of years, but by 1955 he had returned to Houston and disbanded the Texans. He then formed a label, but most of his income came from covers of his former hits, especially Ray Charles' versions of "Born To Lose," "No Letter Today" and "Worried Mind." A true legend, Daffan passed away in late 1996.

Claude Gray: Born in Henderson, Claude Gray holds the distinction of recording Willie Nelson's "Family Bible" at Houston's Gold Star Studios for "Pappy" Daily's D Records in 1960. The song became both men's first hit (although Nelson had sold the song to Gray and two partners for $100), and led to Gray signing with Mercury Records, where he immediately had two top five hits and continued to be frequently in the charts the next decade.

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