D Records was established in Houston by record producer Harold Westcott “Pappy” Daily in the late 1950s as an experimental record label—also known as a “look-see” label. Daily had cofounded Starday Records about 1952 but had later sold his interest and started new labels, including D Records. The “D” stood for Daily. Daily entered into an agreement with Mercury Records whereby if a D Records recording did well in Texas, he would lease the master to Mercury for national distribution. J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson’s 1958 recording of “Chantilly Lace” was first released on the D label, because the management at Mercury did not think it would do well for national distribution. However, after the song sold 25,000 copies in Texas, Mercury picked it up, and “Chantilly Lace” eventually became a major hit.
Over the years, D Records played an important role in the early careers of many Texas artists. The label saw success with the releases of Claude Gray’s “Letter Overdue” (1959), Eddie Noack’s “Have Blues Will Travel” (1958), Harry Choates’s “Jole Blon” (1961, a reissue of the Gold Star single), and Ray Campi’s “Ballad of Donna and Peggy Sue” (1959). The D label also made early recordings by Willie Nelson, such as “What a Way to Live,” and “Misery Mansion” in 1960. During the label’s heyday from the late 1950s through 1964, Daily recorded a large portion of his catalog with engineer Bill Quinn at his Gold Star Studios (now SugarHill Recording Studios) in Houston.
The very first commercial releases by George Strait with the Ace in the Hole Band, “I Just Can’t Go On Dying Like This” and “(That Don’t Change) The Way I Feel About You,” produced by Pappy’s son Don Daily, were put out by D Records in the mid-1970s but were not released for national distribution until Strait’s 1995 MCA Records CD Strait Out of the Box. Pappy Daily had a long working relationship with another country music superstar, George Jones, through the Starday label, of which Daily was part owner. However, Jones made only one holiday-themed recording on the D Records label—“Maybe Next Christmas”/“New Baby for Christmas” in 1961.
D Records initially recorded Texas honky-tonk but branched out over the years to include Tex-Mex, Cajun, polka, western swing, and rockabilly. By the mid-1970s D Records became inactive, although its ownership stayed in the Daily family. In 2002 Pappy Daily’s grandson, Wes Daily, revived the company and in the 2010s was recording new country artists on the D Records label.