Wednesday, October 15, 2014

100 years ago: Prince’s Orchestra hit #1 with “Ballin’ the Jack”

Ballin’ the Jack

Prince’s Orchestra

Writer(s): Jim (James Henry) Burris (words), Chris Smith (music) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: October 15, 1914

Peak: 13 US, 14 GA, 14 SM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.01 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Ballin the Jack” was railroad terminology about going full speed. “Jack” was term for the locomotive and “ballin’” referred to the highball, which was a radio signal which meant a clear line. SM Beyond railroad slang, the term meant “moving fast and having a good time.” TY2

The song began as a piano piece in 1912. Conducted by G. Hepburn Wilson, it was “made for dancing with a rag time beat with just the occasional whooping, cheering and sound effects which included whistles, a train horn and even a horse whinnying.” SM It became “the most famous fox-trot of the decade.” DJ Lyrics were added by Jim Burris in 1913 about learning a new dance. TY2

“The song was first heard in the revue show Darktown Follies which played off Broadway in Harlem.” SM Eddie Cantor introduced it in vaudeville and dancers Billy Kent and Jeannette Warner helped popularize it in vaudeville. DJ It was also interpolated into the show The Girl from Utah. DJ

The only chart version was by Charles Adams Prince’s orchestra. He was born in 1869 in San Francisco, California and served as the musical director for Columbia Records before forming his band. The song went on to appear in several films. Judy Garland and Gene Kelly sang it in For Me and My Gal (1942); Danny Kaye did it in On the Riviera (1951); and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis performed it in That’s My Boy (1951).


First posted 2/27/2023.

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