Ace Memorial Album
ring wear; 1961 reissue
catalog ID: SOLD
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:
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) -
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 ) -