Ace, Johnny

Band members               Related acts

- Johnny Ace (aka John Marshall Alexander) (RIP 1954) -

  vocals, keyboards



- none known



Genre:  R&B

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Johnny Ace Memorial Album

Company: Duke

Catalog: DLP-71

Year: 1961

Country/State: USA, Louisiana 

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor ring wear; 1961 reissue

Available: SOLD

GEMM catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD  

Cost: $40.00


Born into a large, religious family (his father was a preacher), John Marshall Alexander started his musical career in the church. Compared to many of his compatriots, Alexander's musical career started late in life. Graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Navy; getting married and raising two children. By the late-'40s Alexander had returned to Memphis were he began playing the piano. He quickly became good enough to start his professional musical career working with Adolph Duncan and the Beale Streeters. Following a stint with B.B. King, Ace won a job as a studio musician at Memphis radio station WDIA. Accompanying the likes of Bland, and Roscoe Gordon, in 1952 Alexander was signed by James Mattis' newly formed Duke label. In an effort to avoid confrontations with his father, Alexander insisted on assuming a stage name: Johnny Ace. 

Ace's first single "My Song" b/w "Follow the Rule" showcased his limited, but engaging baritone on an appealing soul ballad. A surprising hit, the single topped the R&B charts Supported by steady touring, over the next two years Ace enjoyed considerable R&B successes with a string of hits including "My Song", "Cross My Heart", "The Clock" and "Saving My Love for You". Unfortunately, in an era of segregation, his successes were largely limited to black audiences and by mid-1954, Ace's magic touch began to wear off; singles such as "Please Forgive Me" and "Never Let Me Go" failing to generate much attention, even among black audiences.

Sadly, much of Ace's fame stems from the fact he was the main character in one of rock's more infamous episodes. Scheduled to play a Christmas eve1954 concert at Houston's City Auditorium a bored (and stupid), Ace began playing Russian roulette. Putting a .32 caliber pistol into his mouth, he pulled the trigger in front of horrified onlookers. Needless to say, the results proving tragic. Released posthumously, the single "Pledging My Love" b/w "Anymore" provided Ace with another chart topping R&B hit, also providing the artist with his first top-20 pop hit. More than willing to cash in on Ace's posthumous success (America seems to have a special affection for dead singers), 1954 saw Duke release the cleverly titled "Memorial Album for Johnny Ace". A decent compilation, the LP pulled together twelve sides pulled from Ace's various Duke-era singles. Listening to the set the biggest surprises came from the fact Ace wasn't a particularly gifted singer - he was barely in tune on a number of selections (check out his performance on "My Song"). On the other hand, he proved himself a gifted keyboardist. Beyond the popular hits, the standout tracks were up tempo bluesy tracks such as "Don't You Know" and "How Can You Be So Mean". Initially released in 1955, the LP was first offered as on 10" vinyl. The following year saw the release of a standard 12" configuration. Duke has released the set on at least three occasions. In addition to the original 1955 collection, 1961 saw the set reissued with a different cover in black vinyl (our offering) and an exceptionally rare and sought after red vinyl pressing. The collection was also re-released in 1974.

"Memorial Album for Johnny Ace" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Pledging My Love (Ferdinard Washngton - Don Robey ) - 
2.) Don't You Know (Ferdinard Washngton - Don Robey ) - 
3.) Never Let Me Go (Joe Scott) - 
4.) So Lonely (Johnny Ace) - 
5.) I'm Crazy Baby (C.C. Pinkton) - 
6.) My Song (Jones) - 
(side 2)

1.) Saving My Love for You (Sherman Johnson) - 
2.) The Clock (J. Mattis) - 
3.) How Can You Be So Mean (Johnny Ace) - 
4.) Still Love You So (Ferdinard Washngton - Don Robey) - 
5.) Cross My Heart (D. Jones - Johnny Ace) - 
6.) Anymore (Ferdinard Washngton - Don Robey ) - 


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