Songwriters Friends

Henry Burr, the #1 ballad singer of recorded music from 1890 through 1930, was born Harry H. McClaskey on January 15, 1882 in Saint Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. He is credited with over 5,000 phonograph recordings and one of the first Canadian artists to crack the market in the United States.

He began performing as a boy tenor in local churches throughout St. John, New Brunswick and by 1901 he was in his first concert appearance at the St. John Opera House with the Scottish soprano Jessie Maclachlan. That same year, Metropolitan Opera baritone Giuseppe Campanari performed at the same venue and upon hearing the young McClaskey sing, insisted that he head to New York City for more advanced training.

In New York, McClaskey studied with John Dennis Meehan and Ellen Burr (taking the latter’s surname in tribute when he began recording). As one of the first recording artists for Victor Records, then Columbia Graphophone, his first recording of note came in 1903 with ‘In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree.’ He joined a vocal group called the Columbia Quartet, which later evolved into the Peerless Quartet, one of the most popular recording groups in America. From 1916 through 1928, Burr managed the quartet and traveled extensively throughout America with Peerless and Billy Murray, another solo pop phenomenon, in an ensemble known as the Eight Famous Popular Victor Artists.

With the onset of radio, moving pictures, and jazz, the sentimental ballads became outdated and he disbanded the Quartet in October of 1928. After making several solo recordings on smaller labels, freelancing, and working for a short while at CBS, in 1934, Burr became a popular regular performer on Chicago's WLS radio programs. He died in Chicago on April 6, 1941 and was survived by his wife Cecilia.

His top 15 Billboard hits include ‘The Rosary’, ‘Come Down, Ma Ev’ning Star’ (#1 in 1903), ‘To My First Love’, ‘Sammy’, ‘My Cosey Corner Girl’, ‘Blue Bell’, ‘Good-Bye, My Lady Love’, ‘My Little Canoe’, ‘Sing Me To Sleep’, ‘In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree’ (#1, 1905), ‘Oh Promise Me’, ‘In Dear Old Georgia’, ‘Good Night, Little Girl, Good Night’, ‘Love Me and the World is Mine’ (#1, 1906), ‘All Through the Night’, ‘Won’t You Come Over to My House?’, ‘I Love, and the World is Mine’, ‘As Long as the World Rolls On’, ‘Kiss Duet’, ‘I Want You’, ‘You Have Always Been the Same Old Pal’, ‘Then You’ll Remember Me’, ‘When You and I Were Young, Maggie’, ‘To the End of the World With You’ (#1, 1909), ‘I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now’ (#1, 1909), ‘Honey on Our Honeymoon’, ‘My Southern Rose’, ‘Where the River Shannon Flows’, ‘Meet Me To Night in Dreamland’ (#1, 1910), ‘All That I Ask of You is Love’, ‘Every Little Movement’, ‘Day Dreams, Visions of Bliss’, ‘Love is Like a Red Red Rose’, ‘Save Up Your Kisses For a Rainy Day’, ‘When You’re in Town’, ‘I Love Love (I Love You Dear)’, ‘Come to the Ball’, ‘That’s How I Need You’, ‘When I Lost You’ (#1, 1913), ‘To Have, To Hold, To Love’, ‘Last Night was the End of the World’ (#1, 1913), ‘There’s a Girl in the Heart of Maryland’, ‘Flow Gently, Sweet Afton’, ‘Peg O’ MY Heart’, ‘On the Old Front Porch’, ‘Somewhere a Voice is Calling’, ‘Rebecca of Sunny brook Farm’, ‘Where Can I Meet You To-Night?’, ‘The Song That Stole My Heart Away’ (#1, 1914), ‘In the Heart of the City that Has No Heart’, ‘In the Valley of the Moon’, ‘You Planted a Rose in the Garden of Love’, ‘When You’re a Long, Long Way From Home’, ‘There’s a Little Spark of Love Still Burning’, ‘Maybe a Day, Maybe a Year’, ‘There’s a Little Lane Without a Turning (On the Way to Home Sweet Home)’, ‘When I Leave the World Behind’, ‘It’s Tulip Time in Holland’, ‘When You’re In Love With Someone Who is Not in Love With You’, ‘M-O-T-H-E-R (A Word That Means the World to Me)’ (#1, 1916), ‘My Mother’s Rosary’, ‘Memories’, ‘What a Wonderful Mother You’d Be’, ‘Goodbye, Good Luck, God Bless You (Is All That I Can Say)’ (#1, 1916), ‘Baby Shoes’, ‘Your Eyes, Your Lips, Your Heart’, ‘All the World Will Be Jealous of Me’, ‘Joan of Arc’, ‘Somewhere in France is the Lily’, ‘Life in a Trench in Belgium’, ‘I’m Going to Follow the Boys’, ‘Just a Baby’s Prayer at Twilight (For Her Daddy Over There)’ (#1, 1918), ‘Are you From Heaven?’, ‘I’m Sorry I Made You Cry’, ‘There’s a Little Blue Star in the Window (And it Means All the World to Me)’, ‘Three Wonderful Letters from Home’, ‘When You Come Home’, ‘Oh How I Wish I Could Sleep Until My Daddy Comes Back Home’, ‘Don’t Cry, Little Girl, Don’t Cry’, ‘Baby’s Prayer Will Soon Be Answered’, ‘Beautiful Ohio’ (#1, 1919), ‘That Wonderful Mother of Mine’, ‘Oh! What a Pal Was Mary’ (#1, 1919), ‘Weeping Willow Lane’, ‘Carolina Sunshine’, ‘Just For Me and Mary’, ‘I Never Knew’, ‘Was There Ever a Pal Like You?’, ‘When My Baby Smiles at Me’, ‘Daddy, You’ve Been a Mother to Me’, ‘Rose of Washington Square’, ‘I’m in Heaven When I’m in My Mother’s Arms’, ‘You’re the Only Girl that Made Me Cry’, ‘Old Pal, Why Don’t You Answer Me?’, ‘You Made Me Forget How to Cry’, ‘Time After Time’, ‘My Buddy’ (#1, 1922), ‘Mary, Dear’, ‘You Remind Me of My Mother’, ‘Faded Love Letters’, ‘You Know You Belong to Somebody Else (So Why Don’t You Leave Me Alone)’, ‘Just a Girl That Men Forget’, ‘Wonderful One’, ‘What’ll I Do?’, ‘She’s Everybody’s Sweetheart (But Nobody’s Gal)’, ‘Honest and Truly’, ‘West of the Great Divide’, ‘Alone at Last’, ‘You Forgot to Remember’, ‘I Wonder Where My Baby is To-Night’, ‘Always’, ‘I Wish I Had My Old Gal Back Again’, ‘The Prisoner’s Sweetheart’, ‘Because I Love You’, ‘Are you Lonesome To-night?’ and ‘Memories of France.’

Burr also experienced great success as one half of the famous duo Burr and Campbell. The Duo recorded eight #1 hits including ‘When I Was Twenty-One and You Were Sweet Sixteen’ (1912), ‘The Trail of the Lonesome Pine’ (1913), ‘I’m On My Way to Mandalay’ (1914), ‘Close to My Heart’ (1915) ‘There’s a Quaker Down in Quaker Town’ (1916), ‘Lookout Mountain’ (1917), ‘Till We Meet Again’ (1919) and ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ (1919).


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