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Johnny Ace
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Vocalist
    (June 29, 1929-December 25, 1954)
    Birth name was John Marshall Alexander
    Recorded for Duke Records
    Billed as 'The Man With a Tear in His Voice'
    Died at 25, after playing Russian roulette at a performance
    On Christmas Eve, 1954, he played Russian roulette during a break at a Houston concert and lost.
    He died the next day (Merry Christmas).
    He was a lousy gambler (took 5-1 odds on an empty chamber and lost).
    He shot himself in front of several backstage witnesses, including blues legend Big Mama Thornton.
    After his death, 'Pledging My Love' became his only hit to cross over onto the pop charts.
    Paul Simon wrote a tribute song about him.
    He is far better known for his death than for his music.
    His father was a minister, and he sang in the church choir.
    He was a member of the Beale Streeters, which included B.B. King and Bobby 'Blue' Bland.
    He recorded two songs at Sun Studios for Sam Phillips, but they were never released.
    Cashbox Magazine considered him the number one rhythm and blues singer in the country at the time of his death.
    A legend persists that he was forced to play Russian roulette by criminals in the music industry.
    Big Mama Thornton refused to say what she knew about his death, and took her secret to her grave.
    Duke Records tried to capitalize on his death by recording his brother as 'Buddy Ace.'
    'Pledging My Love' is a beautiful and romantic song.

Credit: Art Gremashlo


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