Thursday, March 09, 2006

Johnny Ace

As I mentioned in my last post, Johnny Ace died in a bizarre game of Russian roulette in Houston on Christmas Day 1954. Johnny was just 25 but had already built a big reputation for his live performances and his recordings on the Duke label, owned by the infamous Don Robey. The Johnny Ace Memorial Album (Duke LP 71) relates his death as follows: 'It was the night before Christmas and...a sell-out audience was assembled in the City Auditorium at Houston, Texas, impatiently awaiting the appearance of one of the nation's greater vocalists - Johnny Ace. Duke record star. Suddenly, against this backdrop of Christmas festivities, tinseled with excitement and glittering with expectancy, came a shot that, in a matter of minutes, was heard around the world. JOHNNY ACE - the Beloved - had accidentally shot himself.'
The local paper recorded it thus: Tragedy Strikes R&B Field; Johnny Ace Dies in Russian Roulette Game HOUSTON, Jan. 1, 1955 - Rhythm and blues recording star Johnny Ace accidentally killed himself while playing Russian roulette at a holiday dance here on Saturday (25). The shooting occurred at a show featuring the popular singer and his band. Ace had gone backstage for a five-minute break and had been fooling around with a revolver with one bullet in the chamber. Ace, whose real name was John Alexander, was one of the brightest stars in the r&b field. He rose to fame on Duke Records, coming thru with his first hit, "My Song," in 1952. Since then he has had eight hits in a row, including "Cross My Heart," "Please Forgive Me," "The Clock," "Yes, Baby" and the current "Never Let Me Go." The news of the singer's death caused a big demand for his past record hits. Peacock Records, which owns the Duke label, is rushing out an LP of Ace's sides to meet this demand. In addition, the label is releasing another new single, "Pledging My Love." The label will also release other sides made by Ace recently. Ace was 25 years old.


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