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Who killed Johnny Ace?


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Who Killed Johnny Ace? There are several versions of his death. It has been claimed that Don Robey might have been responsible. However, I think this is unlikely.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Ace

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_D._Robey

I never knew there was any doubt about Ace's death.

David Allan Coe's rendition of "Pledging My Love", which is a tribute to Johnny Ace, just about pulls my heart out.

Thanks for starting this thread.

Edited by Christopher Hall
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Guest Tom Scully
http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&ie...tab=wp&um=1

The late, great Johnny Ace and the transition from R & B to rock 'n' roll'‎

by James M. Salem - Music - 2001 - 320 pages

Willie Mae Thornton at 12:40 A.M. on December 26, 1954:

We arrived at the City Auditorium at around 7:20 p.m. and the dance started about eight o’clock. I did not sing until about nine o’clock when I sing five numbers. The band played several numbers before Johnny Ace came on to sing. He sing several numbers and he and I sing the duet "Yes Baby." The band played two more numbers. I then went to the dressing room to change clothes, but I got busy signing autographs and I did not get to change clothes. Johnny Ace came to the dressing room and he signed some autographs. He started to leave out the door when some people stopped to talk to him. About that time, Olivia, Johnny Ace's girl friend walked up and Johnny and Olivia came into the dressing room. Johnny sit on a dresser in the dressing room and Olivia sit on his lap. Shortly after he sit down, two more people who were in the dressing room, Mary Carter and Joe Hamilton, began running around. I looked over at Johnny and noticed he had a pistol in his hand. It was a pistol that he bought somewhere in Florida. It was a .22 cal. revolver. Johnny was pointing this pistol at Mary Carter and Joe Hamilton. He was kind of waving it around. I asked Johnny to let me see the gun. He gave it to me and when I turned the chamber a .22 cal. bullet fell out in my hand. Johnny told me to put it back in w[h]ere it wouldn’t fall out. I put it back and gave it to him. I told him not to snap it at nobody. After he got the pistol back, Johnny pointed the pistol at Mary Carter and pulled the trigger. It snapped. Olivia was still sitting on his lap. I told Johnny again not to snap the pistol at anybody. Johnny then put the pistol to Olivia’s head and pulled the trigger. It snapped. Johnny said "I’ll show you that it won't shoot." He held the pistol up and looked at it first and then put it to his head. I started toward the door and I heard the pistol go off. I turned around and saw Johnny falling to the floor. I saw that he was shot and I run on stage and told the people in the band about it. I stayed there until the officers arrived."

Olivia Gibbs: "Johnny was sitting on the [dressing room] table and I was by him and he had his arm around me":

I saw Johnny look at the gun and then he put it up to my head and pulled the trigger and it snapped. I saw him look at the gun again and then he put it up to his head and pulled the trigger and the gun fired. He then fell off of the table and on to the floor. Everybody ran out of the room except Mary Carter, Willie Mae Thornton and me. I thought he was just playing and I picked up his head and then I saw the blood. I then ran to the box office and told Evelyn Johnson that Johnny had shot himself."

Mary Carter:

After I had been in the dressing room a few minutes Johnny had a small pistol and he was pointing it at some of the people and he would pull the trigger and we could hear it “click,” after awhile he put the gun to Olivia's ear and pulled the trigger and I could hear it “click.” Johnny then reared back in his chair and told us he “was going to show us how it worked," he then put the gun to his right ear and pulled the trigger. I then heard a “pop" and Johnny fell over in the floor and I saw blood start to running out of his head on the left side.

http://books.google.com/books?id=MqJkizbPM...neral#PPA149,M1

The late, great Johnny Ace and the transition from R & B to rock 'n' roll'‎

by James M. Salem - Music - 2001 - 320 pages

Page 149

"The only person who can partly clear up the mystery [of Ace's death]," the Defender chain reported, "is attractive Olivia Gibbs, a waitress in a local club ...

http://books.google.com/books?id=MqJkizbPM...neral#PPA130,M1

Page 130

...Then, in a December incident in Don Robey's office, Ace, Gatemouth Brown and others were picking up contracts, when Ace, as a joke, pulled out his pistol and pointed it at Brown....

Edited by Tom Scully
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Who Killed Johnny Ace? There are several versions of his death. It has been claimed that Don Robey might have been responsible. However, I think this is unlikely.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Ace

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_D._Robey

I haven't watched the video yet but it seems that though there is disagreement over the details all agree he died by his own hand. There are doubts surrounding the deaths of other musicians which I think are mostly due to their friends and fans wanting to accept they could die in such mundane manners. I've seen questions raised about the deaths of:

Bobby Fuller

Billy Murcia (NY Dolls)

Nancy Spungeon (SP?)

Sid Vicious

Johnny Thunders (NY Dolls)

As well as Janis, Jimi, Jim and John (Lennon)

Oh yeah and there's the Israli nut, whose name escapes me, who thinks John killed Paul who was replaced by a substitute and the substitute killed John

I never knew there was any doubt about Ace's death.

David Allan Coe's rendition of "Pledging My Love", which is a tribute to Johnny Ace, just about pulls my heart out.

Thanks for starting this thread.

I agree great song great singer

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I haven't heard Coe's version, but "Pledging My Love" was one of my favorite songs as a youngster. I listened to Teresa Brewer's cover of it. I don't remember Ace, but as a white kid in the segregated South one of my guilty pleasures was listening to the black music program "Night Train" on the local radio on Saturday nights (late '50s, after Ace), to hear great black music like Chuck Willis's "It's Too Late," one of the best recordings in history.

Thanks for the thread, John. It brings back memories, even if Ace himself isn't one of them.

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  • 4 weeks later...
I haven't heard Coe's version, but "Pledging My Love" was one of my favorite songs as a youngster. I listened to Teresa Brewer's cover of it. I don't remember Ace, but as a white kid in the segregated South one of my guilty pleasures was listening to the black music program "Night Train" on the local radio on Saturday nights (late '50s, after Ace), to hear great black music like Chuck Willis's "It's Too Late," one of the best recordings in history.

Thanks for the thread, John. It brings back memories, even if Ace himself isn't one of them.

It would be unfortunate if someone didn't make mention of Paul Simon's The Late Great Johnny Ace. In reality, Simon wrote the song as a blending of three principal events, the deaths of Johnny Ace, John F. Kennedy and John Lennon. There is even the strange scene in a video, The Concert For Central Park, where, when Paul Simon is playing this song and a crazed fan jumps on the stage who is not exactly acting like a normal person, you have to see the performance on video to get a grasp of how strange the incident really was......

Back to the song, in the studio version there is an orchestral ending performed by Phillip Glass, that put chills down my spine the first time I heard it, it is an extremely emotional song if you have any warmth in your heart at all, for these three persons.

The Late Great Johnny Ace

I was reading a magazine

Thinking of a rock and roll song

The year was nineteen-fiftyfour

And I hadn't been playing that long

When a man came on the radio

And this is what he said

He said I hate to break it to his fans

But Johnny Ace is dead, yeah, yeah, yeah

Well, I really wasn't

Such a Johnny Ace fan

But I felt bad all the same

So I sent away for his photograph

And I waited till it came

It came all the way from Texas

With a sad and simple face

And they signed it on the bottom

From the Late Great Johnny Ace, yeah, yeah, yeah

It was the year of The Beatles

It was the year of The Stones

It was nineteen-sixtyfour

I was living in London

With the girl from the summer before

It was the year of The Beatles

It was the year of The Stones

A year after J.F.K.

We were staying up all night

And giving the days away

And the music was flowing amazing

And blowing my way

On a cold December evening

I was walking through the Christmas tide

When a stranger came up and asked me

If I'd heard John Lennon had died

And the two of us went to this bar

And we stayed to close the place

And every song we played

Was for The Late Great Johnny Ace, yeah, yeah, yeah

[from the CD Hearts and Bones Paul Simon]

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It would be unfortunate if someone didn't make mention of Paul Simon's The Late Great Johnny Ace. In reality, Simon wrote the song as a blending of three principal events, the deaths of Johnny Ace, John F. Kennedy and John Lennon. There is even the strange scene in a video, The Concert For Central Park, where, when Paul Simon is playing this song and a crazed fan jumps on the stage who is not exactly acting like a normal person, you have to see the performance on video to get a grasp of how strange the incident really was...

See it at YouTube:

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