Top Broadway composer in early 1900s
ASCAP Charter Member and Director
Harry Carroll, the composer of such enduring standards as “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows”, “Trail of the Lonesome Pine” and “By the Beautiful Sea,” was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey on November 28, 1892.
A self-taught musician, Carroll began his career playing piano in movie houses when he was still in grade school. After graduating from high school, he moved to New York City where he found work as an arranger on Tin Pan Alley. At night, he entertained patrons at the Garden Café on 7th Avenue and 50th Street and also accompanied in various vaudeville shows.
He was hired by the Schubert brothers’ Winter Garden productions as a contract writer in 1912. His first show was a collaboration with Arthur Fields and Ballard MacDonald entitled On the Mississippi. From there, Carroll and MacDonald produced several hit songs including “There’s a Girl in the Heart of Maryland”, “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine” and “It Take a Little Rain With the Sunshine to Make the World Go Round”.
In 1914, Carroll was a charter member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) as well as one of its first directors (1914-1917). In this year, he also collaborated with Harold Atteridge on one of his biggest hits “By the Beautiful Sea”.
Carroll’s first Broadway Musical was produced in 1918, entitled Oh, Look!. In this show, the hit song “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” appeared, with lyrics by Joe McCarthy and a melody based strongly on Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu in C minor. The song sold over a million copies in 1918 and was a hit for Perry Como in 1946.
Other Broadway scores Carroll collaborated on include The Passing Show of 1914, Dancing Around, Maid in America, The Little Blue Devil, Ziegfeld Follies (1920, 1921) and Greenwich Village Follies.
Collaborating with Atteridge, McCarthy, MacDonald, Alfred Bryan, Carroll’s catalog includes the hit songs “The Land of My Best Girl”, “Tip Top Tipperary Mary”, “Smother Me With Kisses and Kill Me With Love”, “Down in Bom-Bom Bay”, “She is the Sunshine of Virginia”, “On the Mississippi”, “Out Home Town”, “Wherever There’s Music and Beautiful Girls”, “A Kiss for Cinderella” and “Roll on River Missouri”.
Carroll was married to singer Anna Wheaton and the two starred as a vaudeville act for several years. In his later career, he toured various cafes performing hits from his own catalog.
Harry Carroll died in Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania on December 26, 1962.