21 September 1912
6 October 1996 (aged 84)
Daffan played steel guitar with bands in the Houston area before starting his own band, Ted Daffan and His Texans. As a band leader, he pioneered the use of the steel guitar as a lead instrument and in solos, a departure from the traditional fiddle sounds used by most country bands. Daffan's clean, distinctive sound – which combined blues and swing – and his songs influenced artists for years to come.
Like "Born to Lose," a number of Daffan songs were recorded by other artists. Among them were Ray Charles, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Willis, Fats Domino, Rosemary Clooney, Ringo Starr and Elton John.
In 1943, Daffan's "No Letter Today" topped the charts and competed with the Mills Brothers' "Paper Doll," Frank Sinatra's "It¹s Always You," and a song by fellow East Texan Al Dexter, "Pistol Packing Momma."
Other Daffan hits were "Worried Mind" in 1940, "I¹ve Got Five Dollars and It¹s Saturday Night" in 1950, and "I'm A Fool to Care" in 1954.
One of Daffan's biggest hits, "Truck Drivers' Blues," was written when he stopped at a roadside diner and made a prophetic observation. While chowing down, he noticed that every time a trucker parked his rig and strolled into the cafe, the first thing he did, even before ordering a cup of coffee, was push a coin in the jukebox.
It occurred to him that if he could write a song for those drivers, their nickels might make him rich and famous.
He went home and wrote a song recorded by western swing artist Cliff Bruner in 1939. It sold more than 100,000 copies – which was a smash hit in the thirties – and went on to become a part of James Jones' best-selling novel,"From Here to Eternity."
In 1949, Daffan received a rare gold record for his own recording of "Born to Lose" and a platinum disk in 1982 for Ray Charles' recording of the same song.
Before his 1996 death in Houston, Daffan was honored by the Academy of Country Music Hall of Fame, the Texas Swing Music Hall of Fame, the Western Swing Society, the Texas Steel Guitar Association, the State of Louisiana, and the Nashville Songwriters Association.
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