Sir Harry Lauder wrote this song in honour of his son after his death in 1916 during the First World War. It was re-recorded a number of times, inlcuding this 1926 version. As well as many of his records being reissued here later many of Sir Harry Lauders' records were also re-recorded for the American market on the Victor (US) label.
Sir Henry Lauder (4 August 1870 -- 26 February 1950), known professionally as Harry Lauder, was an international Scottish entertainer, described by Sir Winston Churchill as "Scotland's greatest ever ambassador!"
Henry Lauder was born at Portobello, Edinburgh, where the family lived, in the home of his maternal grandfather, Henry McLennan. His father was John Currie Lauder, descended from the Lauders of the Bass, and his mother was Isabella Urquhart MacLeod McLennan, born in Arbroath to a family from the Black Isle.
At age 21, Harry married Ann Vallance on 19 June, 1891, the daughter of a colliery manager at Hamilton. His brother Matthew stood as his best man, and a year later, Harry served as Matthew's best man when he wedded Ann's sister, Catherine.
Lauder sang as he worked in the coal mines to help relieve the arduous nature of the work, and his fellow workers encouraged him to sing in the local halls. While singing in nearby Larkhall, he was paid for the first time a fee of 5 shillings. After more evenings singing in halls around Hamilton, he went to the weekly go-as-you please night held by Mrs. Christina Baylis at her Scotia Music Hall/Metropole Theatre in Glasgow. She advised him to gain experience by touring halls around the country with a concert party, which he did. This allowed him to quit the coal mines and turn to singing professionally. Lauder sang comedic and songs of Scotland and Ireland.
In 1905 his success in leading the Howard & Wyndham pantomime at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, for which he wrote I Love a Lassie, made him a national British star, and he obtained contracts with Sir Edward Moss and others. During 1911 he toured the United States where he commanded $1,000 a night. In 1912 he was top of the bill at Britain`s first ever Royal Command Variety performance, in front of King George V, organised by Alfred Butt. He was Britain`s best-known entertainer.
He toured the world extensively during his forty-year career, including 22 trips to the United States, for which he had his own railroad train, the Harry Lauder Special, and made several trips to Australia, where his brother John had emigrated. He was, at one time, the highest-paid performer in the world, making the equivalent of £12,700 a night plus expenses, and was the first British artiste to sell a million records. Lauder's music appealed to all, including workers, merchants, royalty and presidents.
When World War I broke out, Lauder was in Melbourne on one of his Australian tours. During the war, he led successful fundraising efforts for war charities, organised a tour of music halls in 1915 for recruitment purposes, and brought his piano to the front lines where he entertained the troops under enemy fire in France. Through his efforts in organising concerts and fundraising appeals he raised £1,000,000 to help servicemen return to health and civilian life, for which we was knighted in 1919.
He suffered personal tragedy during the war, when his only son, John (1891--1916), a captain in the 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed in action on 28 December 1916 at Poiziers. Harry wrote the song "Keep Right on to the End of the Road" in the wake of John's death and had a monument built for his son, who was buried in France, in the little Lauder cemetery in Glenbranter.
Sir Harry wrote most of his own songs, favourites of which were "Roamin' in the Gloamin'", "I Love a Lassie", "A Wee Deoch-an-Doris", and "Keep Right on to the End of the Road", which is used by Birmingham City Football Club as their club anthem.
Sir Harry's wife died on 31 July 1927 and was buried next to her son's memorial at Glenbranter, Argyll. His niece, Margaret (Greta) Lauder, M.B.E., (1900--1966), moved in with him at his home, Laudervale (outside Dunoon), and became his constant companion in later years.
Sir Harry's final retirement was announced in 1935. However, he again entertained troops throughout Britain during World War II, despite his age, and made wireless broadcasts with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He also appeared immediately after the war to thank the crews of American food relief ships docking at Glasgow. His last years were spent in his home of Lauder Ha' at Strathaven, where he died in February 1950, aged 79.