"Johnny Ace died at 25, allegedly during a game of Russian Roulette. The legend of his death not only obscures his talent but is built upon a misreading of what happened backstage that Christmas night in 1954."
So reads the teaser for the item posted on Legs McNeil’s vital literary pop culture website, PleaseKillMe.com (based on his and Gillian McCain’s classic book), leading into a story that gets to the facts behind the death of Johnny Ace, the R&B dynamo out of Memphis. Ace’s backstage exit was the first legendary “rock ’n' roll suicide,” and Jeff & Burt may be the first to cut through the mythology:
"As legend has it, Johnny Ace went out in a most romantic way on Christmas Day 1954 — romantic like the love scene between Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken in . Johnny Ace died at 25, playing Russian Roulette, the game in which you load a bullet into one chamber of a revolver, spin the cylinder, then pull the trigger while pointing the gun at your head. It’s said to be quite a rush if you only hear .'
"There’s one small catch to the legend of the late great Johnny Ace...”
Find out what the catch is. Read the story here. Then share it!
\There's also a great hidden news item at the end of the story. Burt and Jeff have written a book about performers who died onstage, set to be published in 2019.