Cover image for The late, great Johnny Ace and the transition from R & B to rock 'n' roll'
The late, great Johnny Ace and the transition from R & B to rock 'n' roll'
Salem, James M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Urbana : University of Illinois Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xi, 274 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Personal Subject:
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
ML420.A275 S25 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Johnny Ace's career lasted barely eighteen months, yet musicians from Bob Dylan to Paul Simon have acknowledged their debt to him. This is the first comprehensive treatment of an enigmatic, captivating, and influential performer.

Author Notes

James M. Salem, professor and chair of American studies at the University of Alabama, is the author of Drury's Guide to Best Plays, the television documentary Beatlemania: A Catalyst for Change, and many articles on American popular music and other topics.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Salem (Univ. of Alabama) combines a biography of Ace with a deft overview and analysis of the changing nature of the record industry and popular music in the early 1950s. John Alexander (a.k.a. Johnny Ace) was raised in Memphis, a hothouse of music (where both the blues and country were nourished) and the original home of Duke Records. Ace's first Duke sides appeared in mid-1952, and soon after Don Robey in Houston controlled the label and Ace's career. The singer quickly became a rhythm and blues star, constantly touring and placing numerous hits on the record charts until his untimely death on Christmas night 1954. With little information on Ace's private life, Salem focuses on the rapidly changing record industry, the roles of Robey and other key personalities, and particularly the singer as a transitional figure between rhythm and blues and the emerging rock 'n' roll. Salem includes assorted illustrations, detailed notes, a selected discography, and helpful bibliography. A valuable addition to the literature. Recommended for academic libraries serving upper-division undergraduates through faculty and for public collections. R. D. Cohen; Indiana University Northwest

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 Memphis: Chained in the Backyardp. 7
2 Beale Street: Five Dollars a Night and All the Chili You Can Eatp. 23
3 Signing Your Mama Away: A Name from the Devil's Gamep. 35
4 Las Vegas in Houston: The Bronze Peacockp. 46
5 Heart Balladsp. 67
6 Potent Wax: Johnny Ace's Mid-Era Hitsp. 86
7 Dirty Talk and One-Night Standsp. 108
8 Silent Night, Deadly Nightp. 128
9 Life after Deathp. 141
10 "Pledging My Love"p. 154
11 Imitations of Lovep. 174
12 Ace of Heartsp. 190
A. Interviewsp. 201
B. Selected Discographyp. 202
Notesp. 211
Works Citedp. 241
Indexp. 255