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Johnny Ace

The senseless loss of life of young pianist Johnny Ace while indulging in a round of Russian roulette backstage at Houston’s City Auditorium on Christmas Day of 1954 will overshadow his relatively brief but illustrious recording career on Duke Information. That is clearly a pity, for Ace’s mild, plaintive vocal balladry should get reverence alone merit, not due to the scandalous fallout caused by his tragic demise. John Marshall Alexander was an associate in good standing up from the Beale Streeters, a loosely knit team of Memphis youthful bloods that variously included B.B. Ruler, Bobby Bland, and Earl Forest. Putting your signature on with regional DJ Mattis’ fledgling Duke logo design in 1952, the re-christened Ace strike the top from the R&B graphs his first-time out using the mellow ballad “My Track.” After that, Ace could perform no musical incorrect, racking up strike after strike for Duke in the same easy, urbane design. “Mix My Center,” “The Time clock,” “Keeping My Love for you personally,” “Make sure you Forgive Me,” and “By no means Let Me Proceed” all dented the uppermost gets to of the graphs. And, with one fatal gunshot, everything talent was dropped permanently (weepy tribute information quickly surfaced by Frankie Ervin, Johnny Fuller, Varetta Dillard, as well as the Five Wings). Ace obtained his biggest strike of most posthumously. His haunting “Pledging My Like” (cut with Johnny Otis & His Orchestra in support) continued to be atop Billboard’s R&B lists for ten weeks in early 1955. One additional strike, “Anymore,” worn out Duke’s stockpile of Ace experts, so they attempted to clone the past due pianist’s achievement by recruiting Johnny’s more youthful sibling (St. Clair Alexander) to record as Friend Ace. When that didn’t workout, Duke manager Don Robey got vocalist Jimmy Lee Property, renamed him Pal Ace, and documented him completely into the past due ’60s.

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