William Edward Daily was born on August 30, 1927, in Des Moines, Iowa, the son of Fern Ellis and Raymond Daily. Two weeks after his son was born, Daily’s father went out to get a loaf of bread and never returned. In 1939, Daily and his family moved from Des Moines to Chicago, Illinois, where he spent the rest of his youth. Following graduation from Lane Technical High School, Daily studied for a time at the Goodman Theatre School, then left home to become a professional musician, playing upright bass with jazz bands in numerous clubs across the Midwest. In the early 1950s he was drafted into the United States Army, serving in the Korean War with an artillery unit and later with an entertainment unit.