Country classics such as "I've Got Five Dollars and It's Saturday Night," "No Letter Today," "I'm a Fool to Care" and "Born to Lose" ensured that Ted Daffan would become a charter inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Daffan was born in Louisiana but raised in East Texas. In the early 1930s, the steel guitarist performed in a Hawaiian band in Houston, but by 1934 he had moved into country music. Country bandleader Cliff Bruner recorded a number of Daffan's songs during 1939 sessions, giving the budding songwriter a huge boost. Bruner's recording of Daffan's "Truck Driver's Blues" became a national bestseller and is regarded as the first trucker song.
Daffan formed his own band, which he named Ted Daffan's Texans, and began recording in 1940. "Worried Mind," his first hit, sold a reported 350,000 records. Its flip side, "Blue Steel Blues," became a perennially popular country instrumental.
Country music popularity charts were not compiled or published prior to 1944, and many of Daffan's songs gained success during the pre-chart days. Like "Worried Mind," 1940's "Let Her Go" was reissued four times during its heyday, and almost all of Daffan's 1941 and 1942 titles were reissued at least three times apiece.
The bandleader occasionally sang lead on his songs, but more often Texans band members Chuck Keeshan or Leonard Seago did so. Each sang on the band's 1942 single release of "Born to Lose" (Seago) backed with "No Letter Today" (Keeshan and Seago). Both sides became pop hits in 1943, and the record became one of country music's early million sellers. When Billboard's country charts were inaugurated in 1944, this double-sided hit also climbed high on the country charts.
The Texans disbanded in 1950, but Daffan continued to write. Les Paul & Mary Ford, Faron Young and Hank Snow were among the artists who placed his songs on the charts during the 1950s. Ray Charles revived "Born to Lose," "I'm a Fool to Care, "Worried Mind" and "No Letter Today" in the 1960s, which led to renewed interest in Daffan's song catalog.
Daffan was also a pioneer in electrifying and amplifying instruments, a record label owner, a music publisher, a guitar teacher and a music store manager. He sometimes wrote under the nom de plume "Frankie Brown."