William Gould Tracey was born July 19, 1883 [not 1893] New York and died Sept. 5, 1957 New York.
William Tracey also known as William G. Tracey and Billy Tracey, was a native New Yorker, who was involved in the music industry for nearly fifty years.
He started as a staffer for a number of music publishers where he collaborated with a host of major composers from the early 20th century, including Lewis Muir, George Meyer, Maceo Pinkard, Doris Tauber, and Nat Vincent. He was a charter member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). He is mostly remembered for his work as a llyricist Tracey and penned the words to such Tin Pan Alley standards as
“Gee, But It’s Great to Meet a Friend from Your Home Town,”
“Bring Back My Daddy to Me,”
“He’s Had No Lovin’ For a Long, Long Time,”
“Dixie is Dixie Once More,”
“Give a Little Credit to Your Dad” and
“Is My Baby Blue Tonight.”
William Tracey wrote or co-wrote a number of big hit songs, including , “It's a Shame That We Have to Grow Old” with Nat Vincent and Dave Berg in 1917, “It's Too Late Now” with Albert Von Tilzer in 1914, “Naughty! Naughty! Naughty!” also with Nat Vincent and Joe Goodwin in 1916. The lyric to "Mammy o' Mine" was written by William Tracey, a white songwriter who would be Maceo Pinkard's most frequent collaborator. His most lasting hit was “Them There Eyes” with Maceo Pinkard and Doris Tauber in 1930 a song made famous by Billie Holliday. In spite of what appears to be a healthy output and at least one huge hit, little else seems to have been documented about Mr. Tracey's life.
His career took off in 1909 with “Play that barber shop chord”.
In 1912, he tried to go into business for himself and formed the William Tracey Music Publishing Co and published "I'll be welcome in my home town", which he then passed onto the published Leo Feist. In 1913, he had another big hit with "On a Barnyard Honeymoon.". In 1914 he was working for the P. B. Haviland Publishing Co. In 1916, he was performing as Billy Tracey with Nat Vincent, on the back of the success with "Naughty, Naughty, Naughty". In 1917, he was on the staff of Maurice Richmond Music Co. In 1919, he was back performing again, this time with Dorothy Wahl.
Also, in 1919, there was the first judgment by the Arbitration Board of the Music Publishers' Protective Association, over the rights to “Dixie Is Dixie Once More”, which was won by the Shapiro-Bernstein Co.
In 1921, Billy Tracey was part of the show A Trip to Hitland, described as one of the season's vaudeville sensations. Ten of America's foremost song writers make up the cast and the program Is a composite of their best work.
In 1922, he had teamed up with Dan Dougherty and in 1926 they had their own radio show.
In 1923, as Billy Tracey, he was being used to promote Evelyn Cunningham.
In the 1940s he was employed by Shapiro, Bernstein & Co, to write radio plays, with titles based on the titles of popular songs of the day.
In 1950, he was credited as being the personal manager of Kathy March.
20 July 1912 The New York Clipper
9 May 1914 The New York Clipper
19 Dec 1914 The Billboard
27 July 1915 The Saratogian
Aug 20, 1916 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
18 Jan 1917 Utica Herald Dispatch
11 July 1919 Vaudeville
11 July 1919 Vaudeville
28 Jan 1922 The Billboard
28 July 1922 Vaudeville
January 12, 1923 Vaudeville
30 Dec 1950 The Cashbox
October 12, 1912 The Billboard
New Publishers Breaking In
Many new publishers will be found listed in the classified telephone directory this winter...William Tracey decided that, if a melody writer could go into business for himself. there Is no logical reason for a first class lyricist to refrain from doing so...
21 June 1913 The New York Clipper
Another Cup Winner.
On Wednesday evening, June 5, there was a song publisher's contest held at the Clock Cabaret, Ninety-second Street and Third Avenue. A silver loving-cup was awarded to the must popular song. Billy Tracey entered the content with his new song, entitled "on a Barnyard Honeymoon." and won Lands down, beating all the prevailing rag hits of the present. That's going some for a song which hasn't been before the public more than a couple of weeks. The decision was given by the popular vote of the audience. Billy was accompanied at the piano by his charming young pianist, Elfrieda Stoddard.
9 May 1914 The New York Clipper
F. B. Haviland Now In New Quarters.
The P. B. Haviland Publishing Co. is now located In its new home in the Strand Theatre Building, Broadway and Forty-seventh Street, New York. Their new numbers, by Billy Tracey and Al. Harrlman and Dick Howard, "In the Town Where 1 Was Born," a March song: "I'd Give the Whole World to Have You Back Again," a ballad; "My Tango Man" and "Everybody Loves Rag' bear all the earmarks of "going over," and cordial invitation is extended to all friends, old and new, to call or send for them.
August 06, 1916 New-York tribune (NY)
Loew's American Roof...the latter half of the week, and others will include Billy Tracey and Nal Vincent, song writers...
12 February 1916 The New York Clipper
Broadway's New Star
When anything new appears on the horizon that we think will be of Interest to oar readers, we are always glad to devote some space in our columns on the subject. In this Instance it is not in reference to a living dramatic or operatic star, but a real. live, honest-to-goodness song hit, entitled "Give a Little Credit to Your Dad," published by the Broadway Music Corporation (Will Von Tilzer). When we heard this song for the first time about three weeks ago we made the prediction that Will Von Tilzer had another hit, and our enthusiasm has been more than verified. We have heard the song rendered by numerous performers In Greater New York, and In every case it has. If we may use the vernacular, "cleaned up." We can heartily congratulate the writers, Billy Tracey and Nat Vincent,- and we want to give credit to Will Von Tilzer for picking a good song when he hears one. We might also suggest to oar readers that if they are looking for something to build op their act to send to the Broadway Music Corporation for a copy of "Give a Little Credit to Your Dad."
19 February 1916 The New York Clipper
As a special feature the only song that has been written so far to follow the run of "Mother" songs, entitled "Give a Little Credit to Your Dad," written by Nat Vincent and Billy Tracey, is showing up so wonderfully well that there doesn't seem to be anything on the market to stop it.
29 January 1917 The Morning Herald, Monday
Big Bill at Family
Highest salaried double act ever offered here will be presented by Tracey and Vincent, the famous song writer authors of "Naughty-Naughty-Naughty." These clever boys know how to put a song across. Matinee daily. Excellent pictures added.
February 14, 1917 The New York Clipper
A Morris Novelty
The Joe Morris Music Co. has released a new novelty song by William Tracey, Dave Berg and Nat Vincent.
The number is called "It's a Shame That We Have to Grow Old."
July 11, 1917 The New York Clipper
Richmond Has New Writers
William Tracey and Ernest Breuer, a talented song-writing team, is the latest addition to the staff of the Maurice Richmond Music Co. A number of new songs by these writers will be released by the Richmond company for next season. The professional offices are crowded these days and Mr. Tracey and Breuer, together with Harry Collins, are constantly in attendance.
December 11. 1918 The New-York Clipper
Billy Tracey With Broadway
Billy Tracey, formerly with the Douglas & Newman and Leo Feist publishing houses, is now with the Broadway Music Corp.
April 9, 1919 The New York Clipper
"Well -Jack," I said, "I thought I. would drop, in for a minute, but I have been here for two hours- You certainly have, a wonderful catalog.' "Did you hear the songs?" asked Jack. I told him I did. "I'll bet you didn't hear my favorite ditty," and I asked him what that might be. He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me into a rehearsal room and. played me an Irish song by Billy Tracy, Kate Elinore and Sam Williams, entitled "If I Knew That Ireland Was Free." That capped the climax.
11 July 1919 Vaudeville
S.-B. Given Song Verdict.
The first dispute over prior rights to a popular song to arise between two music publishers and left to the Arbitration Board of the Music Publishers' Protective Association for settlement .was decided this week when Maurice Goodman, acting as arbitrator ordered that Jos. W. Stern & Co. immediately suppress in whole or withdraw from publication the song entitled "Dixie Is Dixie Once More."
The case arose through a complaint made by the Shapiro-Bernstein Co., that contended its song of the same title had the prior privileges of publication. The Shapiro-Bernstein song was written by Billy Tracey and Maceo Pinkard while the song found to be a "copy" was composed by Leo Turner and James Karp. Theodore B. Richter acted as counsel for Stern while the Shapiro-Bernstein firm was represented at the hearing by William Grossman.
The arbitrator also instructed the Stern firm to recall or withdraw a letter which had been previously mailed to the trade in which the Stern firm advised the Shapiro-Bernstein firm was trying to put over an imitation song. Mr. Goodman contended this letter was uncalled for and a full investigation of the Shapiro-Bernstein side of the matter should have been made before the trade was circulated.
Anna Chandler testified that she sang the Tracey song in vaudeville Dec. 9, 1918, while the Stern song was written later in the same month, although the latter firm beat the publishers of the original to the copyright, this being the sole basis of the Stern firm's claim to priority. Mr. Goodman decided the writers of the Stern song copied the lyrics after hearing Miss Chandler sing it, the composers of the "copy" living in the neighborhood of the theatre where it was originally sung.
The decision was a wholesome victory for the Shapiro-Bernstein forces since the Stern number will have to be promptly taken from the market while each publisher will be assessed one-half the costs of the hearing. The Stern firm proper was vindicated of any actual theft, the arbitrator feeling they had acted innocently in publishing the number, but the rebuke in reference to the letter circulated throughout the trade rather reflected on the business methods of the Stern company.
Pending the hearing both firms have held up action on the song, but the Bernstein firm now propose to go after it since it carries all the earmarks of an early hit.
11 July 1919 Vaudeville
Billy Tracey and Dorothy Wail.
Piano and Songs.
17 Mins.; One. Fifth Ave.
At last Billy Tracey has gone and done it. The lure of the Footlights has bit him where it does the most harm. But at that Mr. Tracey is no worse than any of the other successful song writers who have stepped on the vaudeville stages to plug a few of their own numbers and incidentally grab off (a piece of change. What Billy needs the most right now is to begin to feel sure of himself and lose a little of the self-conscious staginess that is very much apparent. Accompanying Billy on his trip to vaudeville is Dorothy Wahl. He might have made a happier selection, for Miss Wahl does not seem to fit the scheme exactly, that is at least as far as Billy Tracey is concerned. Miss Wahl starts the proceedings with an introductory number with Tracey arriving in time for the second half of it. It is a retailing of the reasons for the two appearing. Then Billy offers a new song entitled "Oh Those Landlords," which got over fairly well. With Miss Wahl he sings his “Mammy o' Mine," which would be better appreciated if Miss Wahl did not take a vocal part in the presentation. The "Hanging Around" number by her is worth a laugh after which a recitative bit brings laughs. "Dixieland Is Dixieland Once More" was another hit, and after a medley of the choruses of Billy's hits of bygone days from "Gee, But It's Great To Meet, a Friend" and "Barber Shop Chord" down to those of today, he offers "If Ireland Was Only Free," which was a sure fire applause winner. Mr. Tracey will get by just about as well as any of the rest of them did and he deserves to, for he is a great little fellow who has plugged along with the song game all the way from 28th street north and that is going back some, for Bill was a plugger way back in the days of the Tivoli, Chimney Corner and all the places that were places below the 34th street line. Fred.
...Billy Tracey and Dorothy Wahl (Now Acts) offered a pleasing little piano and song melange that was strongest when Tracey was on the job, oven though bo docs not seem to be fully at ease as yet when working on the stage.
Stewart Jackson (Jackson and Wahl) died at St. Cloud Hospital, Calgary, Canada, July 13, from stomach trouble. He was 29 years old and had been in show business for nine years, ...He is survived by his wife Dorothy Wahl (Tracey and Wahl) and an eight-months old son.
14 Sept 1919 The Times Union (Albany NY)
...Tracey and Wahl have a singing act. Mr. Tracey is a popular song- writer. His voice falls to register as well as his song compositions do. Miss Wahl is a good pianist...
1919-1920 Dramatic Mirror (NY NY)
Tracey and Wahl
This vaudeville combination has William Tracey, the song-writer, as its main prop. It has been a custom in vaudeville for some time for composers and writers to frame a turn and bit vaudeville, with the popularity of their published product sure to elicit favorable sentiment the moment the audience is wised to the particular numbers made popular; then again when a medley is played the result is always surefire. Well, Billy Tracey has written a bundle of 'em, including They're So Jealous of Me', Its Too Late, Without You, I'll Be Welcome is My Home Town, He's Had no Lovin' far a Long, Long Time, Bring Back My Daddy to Me, Oh, Oh, Oh That Landlord. If I Knew That Ireland Was Free, Naughty, Naughty, Naughty, Sly Old Moo,. Man, Play Thai Barber Shop Chord, Gee, But It's Great to Meet a Friend from Your Home Town, When I Get Back to My Old Home Tows, etc. Tracey wrote the words to these songs with one exception, which was the Ireland number, and that was a collaborated affair. With Tracey is Dorothy Wahl, who presides at the piano. There's a little exchange of talk, with Tracey singing a routine of numbers that pleased immensely at the Fifth Avenue. A quiet little act, but sure of recognition whereever any percentage has heard any of Tracey's numbers. Mark.
1 April 1921
State Lake, Chicago
"A Trip to Hitland," considerably altered in personal since first here...Billy Tracey fell out, and a "local" subbed;...
April 11, 1921 The Rock Island Argus and daily union. (Rock Island, Ill.)
In their offering, they have something out of the ordinary in five pianists playing the Instruments in accompaniment for their songs. The piece opens with a medley of catchy songs they have written since 1905. During the course of their offering they select a title for a new song, write the words and melody and then sing it as it is finished.
18 July, 1922 The Billboard
"I Certainly Must Be In Love" Is a comedy novelty number written by William Tracey and Dan Dougherty. Goodman & Rose, 222 West Forty-sixth street, this city, are the publishers.
January 12, 1923 Vaudeville
Singing exclusive songs by Billy Tracey
Next Week (Jan. 15-17), Loew's State. New York; (Jan. 18-21) Loew's National, New York.
Booked solid reason 1023. Marcus Loew Circuit
Direction: Fitzpatrick & O'Donnell
7 Mar 1926 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (NY)
Rao Samuels will head the bill at the Bushwick, singing jazz songs and ditties, written by Billy Tracey and Daniel Dougherty.
February 4, 1926 The New York Sun
WGCP [radio]— "Where good cheer prevails" - was formally introduced to our attention last evening, but we gained little from the meeting. Starting off with a most encouraging note struck by two Irrepressible and spontaneous youths, Billy Tracey and Halsey Mohr, who sang and told stories to the grandfatherly announcer in charge of the microphone, thereby complexly destroying his carefully assumed manner of good natured superiority, they gave to us a moment of hope.
While their songs which Included such numbers as "You're Always a baby to Mother" and "When I Kiss you, I kiss the Blues Goodbye." were not exactly classics, they had the advantage of being sung in a charmingly free and natural manner by two passingly fair voices.
October 26. 1926 New York Evening Post
Evening Post Radio Time-Table
6:30 P.M.— Tracy and Dougherty.
6:45 P.M.— Tracy and Dougherty
7:20 P.M. — Tracey & Dougherty
8:55 P.M. — Tracey & Dougherty, songs.
September 26, 1934 The Binghamton Press (NY)
'Cocktail Hour' Is Coming to the Capitol
...Billy Tracey and Jack Stanley whose melodies and lyrics have been used In many Broadway productions are Miss [Rae] Samuels song designers." In "Cocktail Hour" revue they have written a host of specialties that include "If They Ever Have a Code for Love" anenl the NKA spirit of the day; "Modern Lullaby." "Where the Cherry Blossoms Fall" and other hit numbers…
December 1, 1943 Rasio Daily (New York, N.Y.)
Last Summer Joan Brooks CBSongstress heard a song that impressed her the song "Is My Baby Blue Tonight.”- written by Lou (Blue) Handman and Billy Tracey, has been boosted by Joan and is now catching the eyes of other radio stars and the ears of the cash customers...
September 06, 1957 New York Times
William G. Tracey, A Song Writer, 74
William G. Tracey, song writer, was found dead yesterday apparently of natural causes in his suite at the Forrest Hotel, 224 West Fortyninth Street. He was 74 years old.
September 6, 1957 The Kansas City Times
Song Writer, 74, Dies. Career of William Tracey Began in 1910. New York, Sept. 5. (AP)— William G. Tracey, a song writer since 1910, died today in his suite at the Hotel Forrest. He was 74. A native of Brooklyn, Tracey began his composing career in 1910 with publication of “Barbershop Chord.” He also composed “Gee But It’s Great to Meet a Friend From Your Home Town,’’ "Is my Baby Blue Tonight?" and others. Gashland. Services will be at 10:30 o’clock Saturday at the liBilford chapel, Lee’s Summit. Burial will be In Mount Moriah cemetery.
1900 Census – 208 W 35 St, Borough of Manhattan, Election District 11 New York City Ward 11, New York County
William Tracey Head M 58 b. Dec 1841 New York, father born New York, mother born Ireland, liquor dealer
Ellen Tracey Wife F 45 b. Feb 1846 New York, married 23 years. 1 child 1 alive, father born New York, mother born Ireland,
William Tracey Son M 16 b. July 1883, New York, florrist
William Tracey, Age 22, Single, b. 1884 N. Y. City (s. of William Tracey & Alice Gray) married Kathleen Gannon, Age 22, Single, b. 1884 Pittsburgh Pa. (d. of John Gannon & Elizabeth Creighgon) 12 Apr 1906 Manhattan New York
William Tracey, Age 30, Single, b. 1883 N. Y. City (s. of William & Alice Gray) married Helen O'Brien, Age 22, Single, b. 1891 N. Y. City (d. of James & Katherine Hoyde) 25 Aug 1913 Manhattan New York
Song Writer Does It.
William Tracey, song writer, was married Monday last to Helen O'Brien, a non-professional. Ray Walker was best man.
Everybody in the music business was there and some haven't returned to their offices yet.
Helen Tracey died 22 Mar 1921 100 East 120th St. Bronx New York, Age 26, Married, Housewife, b. 19 Sep 1894 U.S. (d. of James O'Brien b. U.S. & Catherine Hayde b. Ireland), Spouse William G. Tracey, buried 24 Mar 1921 Calvary Cem.
9/12/18 WW1 Draft Card
William Gould Tracey of Apt 7 576 W 135 NY NY, age 35, b. 19 July 1883, steamship clerk Roland & Liesgang 78 Broad St NYC, friend Helen [crossed out] Lena Freed 751 Tinton Ave Bronx NY, medium height, medium build, l brown eyes, brown hair nearly bald
William Tracey, Age 37, Widowed, b. 1885 N.Y. City (s. of William & Alice Grey) married Mary Carter, 25, Divorced, b. 1897 Kansas City, Mo. (d. of Isaac M. Carter & Rebecca E. Bidstrup) 28 Nov 1922 Manhattan New York
29 November 1922 The Morning Telegraph (NY NY)
Song Writer Marries Actress
William G. Tracey. 37 years old, of 336 West Fifty-first street, song writer, and Mary A. Carter. 25 years old, actress giving her address as the National Vaudeville Association. 229 West Forty-sixth street, were married yesterday at the Manhattan Marriage License Bureau by Deputy City Clerk J. J. McCormick.
December 15, 1922 The Vaudeville News
Married. Billy Tracey, song writer, and Ada Carter, member of the N. V. A, were married at City Hall in New York City, on November 28th.
December 15, 1922 The Vaudeville News
Ada Garter, popular member of the N. V. A., was married to Billy Tracey, the well known song writer, at City Hall, New York, on November 28, and ever since have been receiving the congratulations of all their friends.
1930 Census – 319 West 48th Street, Manhattan (Districts 0251-0500), New York, New York, United States
William Tracy Head M 44 b. 1886 New York, Father & Mother b. New York, 30 years when first married, author
Ada Tracy Wife F 34 b. 1896 Missouri, Father & Mother b. Missouri, 21 years when first married
1940 Census - 57 West 70th Street, Assembly District 7, Manhattan, New York City, New York
Paul C Oneil Head M 39 Massachusetts, superintendant building
William Tracey, Lodger, M, 54, Divorced, sameplace since 1935
1940 Census - 3720 77St Assembly District 3, Queens, New York City
Mabel Weil Head F 47 New York, widow, sameplace since 1935
Ada Tracy Lodger F 45 Kansas City, widow, sameplace since 1935, instructor needlework
1942 WW2 Draft Card
William Gould Tracey of 57 West 70 St New York City NY, age 56, b. 19 July 1885 NYC, contact: Elliott Shapiro RKO Bldg 50th St 6 Ave NYC, 5'7", 110lb, brown eyes, bald, light complexion
Ada Tracey, 98, Halstead, died September 14, 1991 at the Halstead Hospital. She was born December 31, 1892 at Kansas City, Missouri, the daughter of Isaac and Rebecca Eliza Bidstrup McDonald [Carter]. A resident of Halstead for 34 years, she was a retired furniture sales clerk for Macy's Department Store, New York City.
Sandy Martin Niece
Joan Barlow Niece
Virginia Barlow Niece
Ada Mary Carter Tracey (31 Dec 1892 - 14 Sep 1991) Halstead Cemetery, Harvey, Kansas [also Ada McDonald Tracey]
Ada was born at Kansas City, Mo., the daughter of Isaac and Rebecca Eliza Bidstrup McDonald and was a resident of Halstead for 34 years. She was a retired furniture sales clerk for Macy's Department Store in New York City. She married William G. Tracey at New York City on Nov. 28, 1922. He died in 1957.
Isaac McDonald “Mack” Carter & Rebecca Eliza Bidstrup
Big City Rhythm; w William Tracey, m Jack Stanley. (c) 7Oct33; EU77190. Ada Carter Tracey (E of William Tracey); 7Oct60 & 20Oct80; R263657 & R265195.
Rhythm On the River; w Billy Tracey, m Jack Palmer. (c) 4Aug32; EP31798. Ada Carter Tracey (W) & Jack Palmer (A); 18Jul60; R261491
Me Father Was An Irishman; by William Tracey 4 Eljner S. Hughes (pseud, of Elliot Shapiro) © 31May46; EU27197. Shapiro, Bernstein ft Co., Inc.
“Play that barber shop chord” (1909)
Muir, Lewis F. (composer) Tracey, Wm. (lyricist). J. Fred Helf Co., New York
Judy Garland - From the movie "In the good old summertime, 1949"
“Gee But It's Great To Meet A Friend” (1910)
McGavisk, Jas. (composer) Tracey, Wm. (lyricist) J. Fred Helf Co., New York
"I'll be welcome in my home town" (1912)
Jentes, Harry (composer) Tracey, William (lyricist) Wm. Tracey Music Publishing Co., 212 W. 42nd Street, N. Y. City & Leo Feist, New York
Composer Raymond Walker, Lyricist William Tracey, Soprano vocal Ada Jones, Tenor vocal Billy Murray
“Give a little credit to your dad” (1916)
Tenor vocal Charles Harrison Lyricist William Tracey, Nat Vincent
"Naughty, Naughty, Naughty" (1916)
This song was introduced in the 1916 Winter Garden production, "Show of Wonders" featuring Grace Fisher. Written by Nat Vincent, Joe Goodwin & William Tracey.
Marguerite Farrell (1916)
“Dixie Is Dixie Once More” (1918)
words by William Tracey, music by Dan Dougherty, published by Goodman & Rose Inc.
Billy Murray (1922)
"Is My Baby Blue Tonight" (1943)
Words by William Tracey, music by Lou Handman. Broadway Music Corp.
Best-selling record in 1944 by Lawrence Welk and his Orchestra, vocal by Jayne Walton (Decca).
The Old Spinning Wheel, a dramatic play fashioned around rural New England folks in 3 scenes by William Tracey (c) 14Sep40 Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., INC (PWH) 15Sep67
On the Mississippi, a Southern play of river life in three acts by by William Tracey (c) 5Novp40 Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., INC (PWH) 6Nov67
Penny Serenade, a love lorn lyrical romance in three acts by William Tracey.
Beer Barrel Polka, a dramatic play In three acts ft three scenes by William Tracey. © 14Sep40; D71756. Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc. (PWH); 15Sep67
The Cowboy In The Sky; dramatic play In 3 acts by William Tracey; based on the popular song titled There is a cowboy ridln' thru the sky. © 17Dec42; D828II. Shapiro, Bernstein S: Co., Inc. (PWH); 22Dec69
David A Jasen, Gene Jones. Spreadin' Rhythm Around: Black Popular Songwriters, 1880-1930.
William Emmett Studwell (2000) They Also Wrote: Evaluative Essays on Lesser-known Popular American Songwriters Prior to the Rock Era. Scarecrow Press.
Last update: 15 December 2017