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Johnny Ace

The senseless death of young pianist Johnny Ace while indulging in a round of Russian roulette backstage at Houston's City Auditorium on Christmas Day of 1954 tends to overshadow his relatively brief but illustrious recording career on Duke Records. That's a pity, for Ace's gentle, plaintive vocal balladry deserves reverence on its own merit, not because of the scandalous fallout resulting from his tragic demise.

John Marshall Alexander was a member in good standing of the Beale Streeters, a loosely knit crew of Memphis young bloods that variously included B.B. King, Bobby Bland, and Earl Forest. Signing with local DJ Mattis' fledgling Duke logo in 1952, the re-christened Ace hit the top of the R&B charts his very first time out with the mellow ballad "My Song." From then on, Ace could do no musical wrong, racking up hit after hit for Duke in the same smooth, urbane style. "Cross My Heart," "The Clock," "Saving My Love for You," "Please Forgive Me," and "Never Let Me Go" all dented the uppermost reaches of the charts. And then, with one fatal gunshot, all that talent was lost forever (weepy tribute records quickly emerged by Frankie Ervin, Johnny Fuller, Varetta Dillard, and the Five Wings).

Ace scored his biggest hit of all posthumously. His haunting "Pledging My Love" (cut with Johnny Otis & His Orchestra in support) remained atop Billboard's R&B lists for ten weeks in early 1955. One further hit, "Anymore," exhausted Duke's stockpile of Ace masters, so they tried to clone the late pianist's success by recruiting Johnny's younger brother (St. Clair Alexander) to record as Buddy Ace. When that didn't work out, Duke boss Don Robey took singer Jimmy Lee Land, renamed him Buddy Ace, and recorded him all the way into the late '60s. ~ Bill Dahl, Rovi
full bio

Comments

I can still hear the words in his song Forever My Darling when we received word he was short in the head playing Russian roulette. Do you ever wonder WHY would someone play roulette when the end is your life.RQ/rlh
would listen to otis all night long
flores763
Pledging My Love was the song my first love and I dedicated to one another, and when my love joined the Air Force, this is the song that kept my memories strong and desire to live to marry him, stronger. Alas, years went by, we went our separate ways, and we never united as one..and now, we are in our middle 70's, we talk over the phone, once or twice a year we see each other while visiting our godfather, but nothing more - our love however, has never died - Pledging My Love remains ours.
I was 9 years old when he died and it was my most saddest x-mas.
Pledging My Love perfect wedding song. Simple
Johnny Ace, had a special talent, his voice was unique, and he did it just the right way with his music, so simple but so awesome. It truly makes me sad, that he died so young, and took songs we'll never get to hear with him... but we do have the ones he left behind... RIP johnny
truly a geat artist. What a future he would had had
He should be played on the oldies stations that spin the same 3 songs daily!!
Known on the LA radio stations (Hunter Hancock,John n y Otis) as "The Late Great Johnny Ace."
pledging my love is mine and my wife nora weve been married for 30 years
pacoloa
Johnny's Memorial Album is one of the best released in the 70's and it still lives on today. The 50's and 60' were the days when Rock & Roll was real music.
halialidavis
My mother and father grooved to his rhythms. So in love.
As a child, I listened to Johnny Ace with my mother! Very good memories!
alan4931
my alltime favorite love song
akellick3
Johnny's first Piano gig was with none other than BB King.
he is one of my favorits
I was a young woman at the time and he just was a great voice as far as I was concerned.Pe o p l e just have to understand that there is a reason for everything.
pledging my love
I was at my desk and when pleding my love came on I starting cry so hard, my mother who die at 42yrs. love that song when she was sad or I guess trying to remember someone she would play it over and over, thank you for keeping it alive. it makes me think of her. thank you so much ms. irene.

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