b. 22 July 1878, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, d. 3 May 1927, Santa Ana, California, USA. A prolific composer of popular songs from 1904-27, most of them with a distinct Irish flavour, Ball studied at the Cleveland Conservatory before playing the piano in vaudeville houses. He later spent a good many years as a staff composer for a New York music publishing company. One of his earliest hits was ‘Will You Love Me In December (As You Do In May?)’ (written with James J. Walker), which was successful in 1906 for the Haydn Quartet and Albert Campbell. This was followed by other popular items, several of them from stage shows, including ‘Love Me And The World Is Mine’ (1906, with David Reed Jnr.), ‘In The Garden Of My Heart’ (1908, Caro Roma), ‘Mother Machree’ (1910, Rida Johnson Young -Chauncey Olcott, from Barry Of Barrymore), ‘Till The Sands Of The Desert Grow Cold’ (1911, George Graff), ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling’ (1912, Chauncey Olcott-Graff, from The Isle O’ Dreams), ‘A Little Bit Of Heaven (Sure They Call It Ireland)’ (1914, J. Keirn Brennan, from The Heart Of Paddy Whack), ‘All The World Will Be Jealous Of Me’ (1917, Al Dubin), ‘Dear Little Boy Of Mine’ (1918, Brennan), ‘Let The Rest Of The World Go By’ (1919, Brennan), ‘I’ll Forget You’ (1921, Annalu Burns), and ‘West Of The Great Divide’ (1924, George Whiting). Several of the above were introduced or popularized by artists such as Chauncey Olcott, Bing Crosby, Charles Harrison, Elizabeth Spencer, Henry Burr and John McCormack. ‘Mother Machree’ was McCormack’s theme song, and that and other Ball compositions were featured over the years in a number of movies, including San Francisco (1930), Let Freedom Ring (1938), A Little Bit Of Heaven (1940), Doughboys In Ireland (1943), My Wild Irish Rose (1947), Top O’ The Morning (1949), By The Light Of The Silvery Moon (1953), The Eddie Cantor Story (1953), and Beau James (1957). Ball’s pleasant but largely fictional film biopic, Irish Eyes Are Smiling (1944), which starred Dick Haymes as the composer, along with Monty Woolley and June Havoc, also contained some of his top songs.
Share this page