Uncle Walt's Band played together on and off for 10 years eventually packing it in in 1983. The band recorded its own material and later had a disc put out by Sugar Hill.
During a split of the group, Ball says, "I just got real focused on country across the board," but he wasn't keen on what he heard. "I just wasn't into Kenny Rogers. They talk about 'Urban Cowboy' and how big an influence it was. I missed it. I don't know what I was doing. I wasn't a part of that scene."
Ball was getting into the Texas-oriented songs more and more. "I started singing some of the Texas classics like "Faded Love" and "San Antonio Rose," and here are these folk people coming to see us," he says. "We were doing all these new music that all these people had never heard."
The band broke up for good, but news about the band recently resurfaced with the death of Hyatt in the ValuJet plan crash in Florida.
Ball cites Hyatt as a major influence. "I learned an awful lot about singing and playing," Ball says. "It gave me a real extensive background in folk music. I really got deep into where country music came from, and it affected my writing."
After Uncle Walt's Band broke up, Ball stayed in Texas, playing in bands and putting together his own. "What was I mostly interested in getting a good country band together. I got real close to doing that, and things started clicking for me in Nashville."
"I didn't really want to move to Nashville, but I started cutting little tapes in my basement and sending them up there," Ball says. "Through Uncle Walt's Band, I knew some people up in Nashville."
He eventually signed with RCA in 1988. But his first single only reached mid-chart level. The next two did even worse.
Done deal. As in over.
But Ball said positives resulted from his RCA experience. "The RCA record deal allowed me the chance to move to Nashville," he says.
From there, Ball hooked up with a publishing company. "They gave me the chance to come off the road...and just write. I sort of stayed there for a year. I pretty much wrote 'Thrinkin' Problem.'''
But he also needed to escape. Ball would trek to Texas and play clubs. "That's when I really started getting a good band together down there. Things started clicking. Musically, I could see that I had it together. It just took a long time for me."
Ball signed to Warner Brothers in 1993, a rather fortunate occurrence because "once you don't have any success, you're kind of like tainted meat," he says. "You kind of sit around, and no one around will talk to you."
While in his 40's, Ball did not think his age worked against him. "Maybe at some labels," Ball says. "Warner Brothers is certainly not (concerned). That's the great thing about that label. They're into the music."
The Warner deal was a haymaker immediately thanks to the success of "Thinkin' Problem," a big hit with a different vocal feel and different from the Hot New Country dominating the airwaves.
"Who knows?" Ball says, when asked why he was so successful. "Who can say? It was different I guess when you stack it up against the other stuff on the radio. It was just different."
"I was glad it found an audience in radio," he says.
"Back then, I really wasn't (surprised)," he says. "I hear what George Strait...is doing, and I think I'm right along the same lines. I've got a lot of respect for good country music."
Garth Brooks opened up doors as well, according to Ball, who liked his "Friends in Low Places." really to a degree. "I just really liked that style. I was really into that barroom thang. Dance hall music, and I still am."
Ball continued hitting the charts with "Look What Followed Me Home" and "When the Thought of You Catches Up With Me."
He toured with the likes of Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn. He now is out with Dwight Yoakam for three months before hitting the clubs and festival circuit this fall.
"I felt real good about the 'Thinkin' Problem' album,"he says. "I was musically honed. That was it. It was kind of a relief to get all of that together and get it on tape because these are new songs, and you never know what's going to happen. There's no road map. You kind of have to find your own way."
And if the public grabs onto "Starlite Lounge" as quickly as it did for Ball's debut, he will have no problems. Thinkin' or otherwise.