Monday, September 17, 2012


THE DEATH OF JOHNNY ACE BY STEVE BERGSMAN Author Steve Bergsman's latest novel The Death of Johnny Ace kept me interested, impressed, picturing myself at being a part of the story and wondering what was going to happen in the upcoming sentence and paragraph. The book had a style of mystery and first and second person narrative, which will and should keep the readers interested. Especially music history buffs like myself. The novel starts off with the narrator giving a description of a Christmas Eve night at a concert hall in Houston where many are there to see to Rhythm and Blues singer Johnny Ace perform, and while the fans are anxiously waiting to see the singer who was dubbed a Soulful version of Johnny Mathis, making it a Christmas they would never forget. It was, and sadly, for the one reasons too. As they wait for Ace to arrive, they fans see a large number of police enter the hall, leaving many to wonder was there anything crazy happening? Including a teenage boy from New York, who was there with his two cousins and friend, who had came to the conclusion that Ace was the one who the cops and ambulance were bringing out before an official announcement was made, and while the cousins were rightfully shaken, the boy held his composure. "For some Strange reason, he tapped his chest, and then reached into the pocket of his jacket, and pulled out the blue ticket to the concert" Bergsman wrote. "He looked at it carefully and then placed it back into safety. It was time to get everyone home." The boy would later become Professor William Harkness,a successful writer, author and retired college professor, who had a great passion, love and knowledge of music history, and a strong interest in deceased singers, including many who died under mysterious circumstances. The rest of story details Ace's arrival at the Palace Theater, making his way to the bar and catching attention from the females customers, who loved men dressed in military attire, and Ace, loved the attention from the women, and the whites, who were polite to men who wore military attire. Like many Southerners in the early 1900's Ace, had joined the military to provide for his family, and receive the financial benefits, but he had also joined to travel the world and to have access to carry a pistol, a obsession he had since he was a teenager living in Tenenesse, and it made him believe that he could get him power and respect. He also began to perform life after he left the military, and began to pursue a singing career, and what makes the story interesting is how Bergsman gives descriptions of the other musicians and how he switches from first to second person narration, making it seem like it's a documentary instead of a book. One of the most interesting and poignant part of the book is how Ace refused to accept a raw deal, and he refused to be treated like a working slave by standing up to Don Robey an executive at Peacock Records who used scare tactics to get his point across and to handle business, and while many gave in, Ace didn't. He even knew how to outsmart him by making dangerous bets, which led many to believe that it was the game of Russian Roulette that caused his death. "The Death of Johnny Ace" is an interesting novel to read, and for those who are into music history this is a good book to read, but I wish that the story would have had also focused on how Ace's music made an impact on the world and why are music lovers interested in his music and why many Whites are more interested in his story than Blacks. A great read for music historians.

1 comment:

Steve Bergsman said...

Terrific, in-depth review by someone who knows his music history.