Johnny Ace / June 9, 1929 - Dec 25, 1954

I first heard Johnny Ace in key scenes in flicks by Abel Ferrara and Martin Scorsese, that lamenting ballad "Pledging My Love" that underscores the wastes of life depicted for Harvey Keitel's character in Bad Lieutenant. It was the Memphis singer's biggest hit AFTER a game of Russian Roulette found a victim before his Christmas day show, dead at 25.

He was a Beale Streeter with BB King and Bobby "Blue" Bland and signed to Duke in '52. By 1954 he was one of the best-selling artists in the country, with a string of hits like "The Clock", "My Song", "Saving My Love For You, "Cross My Heart" and others, touring a year straight with Big Mama Thornton. Apparently, he bought himself a Christmas gift of a brand new '55 Oldsmobile just hours before his death. The Johnny Otis-produced "Pledging My Love" attained immortality out of mortality. But we're here to remember the man and his smooth voice, his ballads and his story.

Tagged: Abel Ferrara, blues, Celebrate Icons, Harvey Keitel, Johnny Ace, Memphis, soul!

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