Rising R&B star Johnny Ace was buried today (January 2nd), after he shot and killed himself on Christmas day, while backstage at Houston’s City Auditorium.
Johnny Ace, born John Marshall Alexander, was playing a game of Russian roulette with his girlfriend when the tragedy occurred.
Ace had finished singing “Yes, Baby Yes” to 3,000 screaming fans. During a 5 minute intermission, he went back stage, where his girlfriend Olivia Gibbs, Mary Carter and Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton were sitting amongst others.
Olivia Gibbs told officers that earlier in the day Johnny Ace had been fooling with the .22 pistol as he usually did and that the gun, which he purchased from another musician while in Florida, was not loaded.
“I saw Johnny look at the gun and then he put it up to my head and pulled the trigger and it snapped,“ Olivia Gibbs told Police. “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 the table and onto the floor everybody ran out of the room except Mary Carter, Willie Mae “Big Mama” 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.”
Johnny Ace was originally a member of the Beale Streeters, a legendary group from Memphis, Tennessee that featured artists like BB King and Bobby Blue Bland.
Even in death the hits continued with the song “Pledging My Love,” and another “Anymore,” which Duke released posthumously.
More than 5,000 people attended Johnny Ace’s funeral, which took place at the Clayborn Temple AME Church in Memphis, Tennessee.
Pallbearers includes BB King, Roscoe Gordon, Junior Parker and Big Mama Thornton.
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