I have been chatting to site member Jurg Pfister and he told me about a letter that he received in 1980 from William J Ball.

Jurg had written to purchase a copy of Bill's recently produced record and asked a few questions.

I think that it is nice to see such a nice and pleasant response and Bill's obvious annoyance at who he describes as  that "b" fool engineer made me smile !

Here is the FULL  version of the letter in PDF format:

WILLIAM J BALL 1980

Thank you Jurg for sharing this. I find it nice to see that Bill had no airs and graces and no chip on his shoulder when dealing with us mere banjo mortals.    ;-)

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Jurg, thanks for the request for another ragtime arrangement... I will see what Steve and I can do!!

I just had to jump in here and tell you how great it was to see Bill Ball's handwriting again! I was the recipient of several of his letters; after starting a correspondence with him back in the early 1990's. Bill had come over to the States back then for an American Banjo Fraternity Rally along with J. "Mac" McNaughten. I couldn't attend that Rally, much to my disappointment. Mac was a big fan of my playing, and hugely supportive to me, and he was anxious to get me together with Bill to do some duet playing. I spoke by phone with Bill a few times, and found him to be the most gracious, warm-hearted, and approachable banjo god I've ever been exposed to, and I've been privileged to know some great ones. I'm attaching Bill's letter to me that arrived in May of 1995, I was prompted to dig it out of my correspondence file after reading Jurg's letter from Bill. Life is all about timing, and it just wasn't in the stars for me to meet Bill and to play some music with him. His letter speaks for itself- at this point in his life he had no desire for the banjo, and no plans to return to the States. He was suffering badly from shingles on his face (yikes), and although he seemed resigned to what life had given him he still had a positive outlook. Bill's letter included his piece "Twilight Caprice", which was his final "souvenir" to me.  Bill Ball's playing was and continues to be a huge inspiration to me, and to know him even a little was something I'll always treasure. - Peter LaBau

Attachments:

I remember Bill telling me about the engineer who used the wrong recording of El Contrabandista, but to top it all there was an article written I believe in the BMG entitled 'The missing triplet', which I tried to find for Bill.  I searched all of my BMG's around the time of the release of the record but could not trace the article, may be it was in another publication.  Perhaps someone else can enlighten us on this?

Bill stopped playing the banjo at one time, and disposed of his banjo, music, tape recorder, magazines, anything connected with the banjo. He later regretted his actions and was desperate to get hold of the article which Mike mentions, he was certain that it was published in the B.M.G. magazine and he asked me to trace it for him.

The article, which was apparently written by MacNaughton, criticised Bill's playing of 'El Contrabandista' and in particular, Bill's execution of the triplets in the, if I remember correctly, 2nd movement. Bill knew that he had fluffed these notes but the recording engineer used this recording on the finished record, which really annoyed Bill, as he had recorded a perfect performance, which was not used.

Like Mike, Bill told me that the article was called. 'The missing Triplet' but I could never find it and at the time, my memory was pretty good, but I could not recall ever reading the article, and I'm sure that I would have, had I ever seen it.

So this article remains a mystery, I'm sure that Bill had seen it, but probably in another publication.

MacNaughton was supposedly Bill's friend and I am inclined to wonder why he apparently wrote such a scathing critique of Bill's performance, it certainly caused a rift between them.

Richard, to the best of my knowledge, Bill never saw the article, but I remember seeing it and yes it was written by MacNaughton.



Richard William Ineson said:

Bill stopped playing the banjo at one time, and disposed of his banjo, music, tape recorder, magazines, anything connected with the banjo. He later regretted his actions and was desperate to get hold of the article which Mike mentions, he was certain that it was published in the B.M.G. magazine and he asked me to trace it for him.

The article, which was apparently written by MacNaughton, criticised Bill's playing of 'El Contrabandista' and in particular, Bill's execution of the triplets in the, if I remember correctly, 2nd movement. Bill knew that he had fluffed these notes but the recording engineer used this recording on the finished record, which really annoyed Bill, as he had recorded a perfect performance, which was not used.

Like Mike, Bill told me that the article was called. 'The missing Triplet' but I could never find it and at the time, my memory was pretty good, but I could not recall ever reading the article, and I'm sure that I would have, had I ever seen it.

So this article remains a mystery, I'm sure that Bill had seen it, but probably in another publication.

MacNaughton was supposedly Bill's friend and I am inclined to wonder why he apparently wrote such a scathing critique of Bill's performance, it certainly caused a rift between them.

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