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Johnny Ace Memorial

To download this album via iTunes, click here: Johnny Ace - Memorial Album
To buy this album from Amazon.com, click here: Memorial Album

Again ... Johnny Sings
A Memorial To Johnny Ace

Memorial Album Number II

From a 1980 vinyl reissue



Side 1

1. Pledging My Love (2:35)
(Washington - Robey)
Johnny Otis Orchestra

2. Don't You Know (2:37)
(Washington - Robey)
Johnny Board & Orchestra

3. Never Let Me Go (2:50)
(J. Scott)
Johnny Board & Orchestra

4. So Lonely (2:29)
(J. Ace)
Johnny Otis Orchestra

5. I'm Crazy Baby (2:15)
(C. Pinkston)
Johnny Board & Orchestra

6. My Song
(D. James)

All songs published by Duchess Music Corp. (MCA) (BMI)
(P) 1973
MCA Records, Inc.

Side 2

1. Saving My Love For You (2:38)
(S. Johnson)
Johnny Ace Band

2. The Clock (2:55)
(J. Mattis)
The Beale Streeters

3. How Can You Be So Mean (2:30)
(J. Ace)
Johnny Board & Orchestra

4. Still Love You So (2:40)
(Washington - Robey)
Johnny Otis Orchestra

5. Cross My Heart (2:43)
(D. James - J. Ace)
The Beale Streeters

6. Anymore (2:55)
(Washington - Robey)
Johnny Board & Orchestra

All songs published by Duchess Music Corp. (MCA) (BMI)
(P) 1973
MCA Records, Inc.

To live, love and give
One greater thing!
Open up your heart
And let it sing ...

The thought expressed in this crude quatrain is the key by which one may enter, aesthetically, into the life of one of America’s truly great song stylists … The immortal Johnny Ace.


JOHNNY ACE (John Marshall Alexander, Jr.).
Born: June 9, 1929 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Schooling: La-Rose Grammar School, Booker T. Washington High School.
Served with the Navy during World War II.
Died: December 25, 1954 in Houston, Texas

“It was the night before Christmas” and … a sell-out audience was assembled in the City Auditorium in Houston, Texas, impatiently awaiting the appearance of one of the nation’s  greater vocalists – Johnny Ace, Duke Records Star. Suddenly, against this backdrop of Christmas festivities tinseled with excitement and glittering with expectancy, came a shot that, in a matter of minutes, was heard around the world. The star attraction, JOHNNY ACE, - The Beloved – had accidentally shot himself!

In a game called Russian Roulette, Johnny staked his “great big future of fame and fortune” and came out the loser. The lad who “opened his heart and let it sing” passed away quietly, Christmas Eve, 1954 …

And the world, that day, cried out, vociferously and in unison: “Johnny is Gone!”

But the ‘world’ was wrong, Johnny had not ‘really’ gone … he was, and it looks as if he will always be – still with us. This fact was evidenced, when almost coterminous with his sudden death, came the release that was destined to keep him forever “living” in the hearts of lovers – his biggest hit, “Pledging My Love.”

No song and no artist has truly ever been accorded the lavish and enthusiastic reviews given this release.

Preceding this release were seven other hits, “My Song”, “Cross My Heart”, “Angel”, “Please Forgive Me”, “The Clock”, “Saving My Love For You”, and “Never Let Me Go.” National acclamation, at this point, resulted in Johnny being heralded the “most sensational R&B artist of our times.” But “Pledging My Love” gave him immortality.

A single adjective is not sufficient, in itself, to describe the greatness of his style. And, rhetoric, generally, because it is surrounded by invisible bars of fragile superfluity, cannot clearly picture the sentimental suavity and exuberant richness, the nostalgic warmth, the blue-note and the slight but perceptible “tear” – beat that pervaded his effervescent style. He knew where a song should go, where he wanted it to go … and his artistic energies were spent in making “His Song” reach its destination. And so, the songs he sang became a part of him, he a part of them. His was a message of love and he gave it to the people! His personality and versality were projected into and mirrored in every quatrain, paired couplet and poetic and emotional metaphor of every song he sang. And there was always that strong “blue” undercurrent, infectiously permeating his performances, whether on record or during a one night stand at a nightclub. A notable achievement that only a few of the great artists have been able to duplicate.

There was nothing artificial or monotonous in his style. His voice, like Old Man River, just rolled romantically and sentimentally along, conjuring a mood that will be remembered as long as man “pledges his love” to his mate.

It was during the year 1952, July, that Don Robey, President of Peacock Records, and his then national sales manager, Irvin Marcus, announced the acquisition of Duke Records. Included in the names of artists acquired, was that of Johnny Ace, unherald and comparatively unknown in music and entertainment circles. This young man, who was destined to flash luminescently across the musical horizon, in a matter of weeks, was hailed as a great new artist with a “great new style, a great new song and a great big future.” Johnny’s great big future was relegated professionally, to just two and one-half years. But during the span of this short period, he invaded the realm of music and carried off its biggest rewards. Several of them are listed, biographically, herewith:

1. The most programmed R&B artist of 1954. The Cash Box “Disc Jockeys of America” poll.

2. Dubbed by the trade as a ‘hit-making’ phenomenon. He was credited with 13 consecutive hits.

3. Broadcast Music Incorporated’s Citation of Achievement award of 1954.

4. Citation of Achievement Award (BMI) 1955.

5. BILLBOARD’S Triple Crown Awards, 1955.

6. The Automatic Music Industry of America Award, 1955.

7. Golden Cup Award, 1954.

These and many others, that time nor space will permit listing, at this time. Despite covers, and these were in excess of 17, by other recognized artists of established reputation, this new recording star outpaced sales-wise all with the original versions.

Johnny Ace, the “sensation” of the recording field, was also the King of One Night Stands. He, overnight, became a tremendous drawing attraction. His engagements were handled by one of the country’s leading agencies, The Buffalo Booking Agency with Miss Evelyn Johnson at the helm. Miss Johnson, teaming him with the dynamic Willie Mae Thornton of “Hound Dog” fame (Peacock Label), booked the pair into the major clubs and theatres throughout the United States. Also, instrumental in Johnny’s meteoric rise were James Mattis of WDIA – Memphis, Tennessee, who gave him his first “break”, and Don D. Robey, who guided him up the ladder of success and to … immortality.

This collection, coming as a memorial, presents Johnny in 12 of his hit songs. And though, he is no longer with us, Johnny's exuberance, like an eternal breeze, still spreads its welcome contagion to those who would lend an ear. This album offers the promise of endless listening enjoyment. So once again, Johnny “opens us his heart and lets it sing.” Listen! Won’t You?

Oh, Fate! …
Such a stupid thing:
Command a bird to fly
Then clip his wing!

– Dzondria LaIsac

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