The Late Great Johnny Ace

Posted by Whitmore, June 9, 2009 10:16am | Post a Comment
Rock and roll has a long and ridiculous history of tragedy. And it probably all started with the accidental shooting death of R&B star Johnny Ace who would have, should have, been 80 years old today.
Born John Marshall Alexander, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee in 1929, Ace was a pianist and balladeer and the first postwar solo black male rhythm and blues star signed to an independent label, Duke Records, to attract a white audience. His first of many hits, "My Song," was released in 1952; other hits followed including "Cross My Heart," "Please Forgive Me," "The Clock," "Yes, Baby" and the classic "Pledging My Love," which was on its way to the top of the R&B charts when he died. Johnny Ace's career lasted barely eighteen months. He only recorded 21 songs.
On Christmas Eve in 1954, Ace was performing at the City Auditorium in Houston. Also on the bill was Big Mama Thornton. They had been on a long, grueling promotional concert tour for most of a year. Ace had put on a lot of weight and was exhausted by the schedule of performing more than 300 shows, playing successive one-night stands sometimes hundreds of miles apart. Ace had become fond of playing with his .22 caliber revolver. Members of his band said he often would point or even unload the gun in their direction or at roadside signs from their car.
In Houston during a break between sets, Ace was, as usual, playing with his gun. First he pointed the gun at his girlfriend and then at another woman who was sitting nearby. He then pointed the gun toward himself, said, "I'll show you how it works." The gun went off into the side of his head.
According to legend Johnny Ace was playing Russian roulette. But witnesses gave a different account. Big Mama Thornton's bass player Curtis Tillman was there: “I will tell you exactly what happened! Johnny Ace had been drinking and he had this little pistol he was waving around the table and someone said ‘Be careful with that thing…’ and he said ‘It’s o.k.! Gun’s not loaded…see?’ and pointed it at himself with a smile on his face and ‘Bang!’; sad, sad thing. Big Mama ran out of that dressing room yelling ‘Johnny Ace just killed his self; Johnny Ace just killed his self!”
Johnny Ace died several hours later on Christmas Day. He was 25 years old.

Let's Make It a Movie Night

Posted by Smiles Davis, June 8, 2009 09:15pm | Post a Comment
I have the same dilemma every weekend: what foreign film or documentary is it going to be tonight? My mammoth DVD collection is pretty impressive, but a little overwhelming. I sometimes ponder what to watch for entirely too long, looking over shelf after shelf, from right to left, then left to right, up and down, down and up just to make sure there’s one I didn’t miss. Minutes pass, sometimes hours, sometimes the ice cream truck, you really just never know. Eventually, fatigue kicks in and my legs and back begin to ache, then my neck, and inevitably my eyes and then it just takes over my entire body 'till the only thing left for me to do is retire to bed. Not exactly how I’d like to spin every Saturday night.

Since this question has pitched tent and perpetually inhibited my thinking space, I’ve officially decided to get it out and put it down on paper for good. So, in the future I can reference it and decipher what’s going to be my entertainment for the night in a utilitarian, more expedient manner. Well, I’ve made my list and checked it twice. Here, in no particular order, are my top 5 foreign picks (for now). 

Y tu Mamá También

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
One amazing reason to love this film:


Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
This is one film I have to watch at least once every other month. One of the many reasons to love this film:

Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore
One reason to love this film:

Directed by Julie Taymor
Aside from Salma Hayek, one reason to love this film:

New 12" Electronic Releases at Amoeba Hollywood - 06/13/09

Posted by Oliver / Matt / Jordan, June 8, 2009 05:10pm | Post a Comment

New Electro/Techno 12"s Coming this Weekend:



The "criminally infectious" followup to "FIRE" is a mix of disco, electro, Italo funk and more and comes with remixes from THE JUAN MACLEAN, BOTTIN, and France's OUTRUNNERS. The original version from the fierce and funky 4 piece (who rocked it at SXSW) is also included.

Streetlife DJ's


Slick edits and remixes of "GET DOWN," "R U GONNA GO MY WAY," "MASSIVE BLACK HOLE," and "KISS." This exciting DJ duo can be described as SASHA meets COLDCUT meets SOULWAX. Basically, they rule. Great fusion of rock, electro, & crazy party music on a limited edition picture disc.


Ruckus Roboticus HERE WE GO REMIX 12" GR003

Tal M. Klein DISCO VILLAINY 12" ALG028

Wild Cookie DRUGS EP 12" HOMEGROWN010


(Wherein we weigh which warble wears weather well.)

Posted by Job O Brother, June 8, 2009 03:11pm | Post a Comment
rain umbrella

The last few days in LA have been kind of gloomy – gloomy by LA standards anyway. I mean, it’s still no place for Ian Brady and Myra Hindley to stage a killing spree, but the clouds have been thick, grey and low, and wet, cool swirls of breeze pour through my window as I write this.

This is a good thing. This is a great thing! I did not move to LA for the weather. My idea of perfect weather is something akin to a cemetery scene in [insert gothic horror film here].

Recently, I found myself at yet another pool party where Industry types multi-tasked by schmoozing while sunbathing, enjoying tropical cocktails and posing atop Danish-designed chaise lounges as the desert sun baked their copper hides; the air perfumed with herbal ointments, oils and extractions, occasionally flavored with dissipating puffs of cigarette smoke – sex was in the air and everyone was hoping to be noticed by someone they were pretending not to notice – and all I could think was, “I wish it would rain.”

Inspired as I am by the titillating tenebrous of today, what follows is some of the music I save for a rainy day. These ditties are safely tucked in a specific playlist for whenever the Sun’s obscured and the scent of moisture’s all around.

Siouxsie & The Banshees – "Dazzle

This song takes me back to the appropriately dark days of the 1980’s. I had just dropped out of high school my sophomore year and the world was a new and wonderful playground of drugs and whimsical fashion choices.

Vietnamese New Wave - Part II

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 8, 2009 02:01pm | Post a Comment
Due to popular response, here's a follow-up to my initial blog on Vietnamese New Wave. For those of you who may not have read it, Vietnamese New Wave (less often called Asian New Wave) is not Vietnamese music. Think Northern Soul, a British genre of music that didn't come from British artists, but were beloved by 70s speed freaks for their common sound. At least, they didn't make it, but they took it, played it at dances, made bootleg mixes of it on tape and CD. The songs in the genre share easy-to-dance-to/syncopation-avoiding beats (setting it apart from Freestyle), easy-to-learn and obviously ESL lyrics, and are completely devoid of pretense or irony. My love and exposure to this amazing music is owed entirely to an amazing person, the flawless tastemaker, Ngoc Nguyen.

Vietnamese New Wave artists come from a variety of scenes including Italo-Disco, (English, French and Swedish) Synthpop and (German and Spanish) and Eurodisco. Beginning in the some time around the mid-to-late '80s, these bubbly, infectious tunes found an unexpected audience in the Vietnamese diaspora who disseminated these gems through the aforementioned mixtapes, parties and bootleg mix CDs which you can still find in Little Saigons around the globe.

We carry many of these artists at Amoeba. Most are found in the Freestyle section. However, a lot are found in, erm... Rock. So ask at info if you can't find something.

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