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The Death of Johnny Ace Paperback – October 15, 2012
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He (Bergsman) does, in fact, give us a good feel for the growing tension between hustler Robey and his restless young charge, and as a cautionary parable about the pitfalls and predations of the music industry.
- David Whiteis, Living Blues magazine
Although Bergsman said that no one really knows what happened backstage the night Ace died, he said he believes he solved the mystery of Ace's death, at least in his mind.
He died just at the tip of rock 'n' roll music taking off. Johnny Ace is the most forgotten rock 'n' Roll pioneer, and Bergsman thinks the guy belongs in the Rock'N'Roll Hall of Fame.
Maybe if the powers-to-be at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland read Bergsman's book, Johnny Ace will be.
- Mike Sakal, East Valley Tribune
Author Steve Bergsman's book, Growing Up Levittown, was published last year as a memoir surrounding his controversial teenage years in the Long Island suburb. Bergsman took a different route in the creation of his first novel, The Death of Johnny Ace. The book is a fictional piece highlighting the career of an American rhythm and blues artist that ended suddenly and all too soon after an accidental suicide.
- Nicole Murphy, Levittown Patch
About the Author
Steve Bergsman has contributed to a wide range of magazines, newspapers and wire services for more than twenty-five years, including New York Times, Wall Street Journal Sunday, Phoenix Magazine, Oldies, Chief Executive, The Australian, Creator’s Syndicate, Reuters News Service, Inman News and Copley News Service. He has been a regular contributor to the “Ground Floor” real estate column in Barron’s and has written for all of the leading real estate industry publications, including National Real Estate Investor, Institutional Real Estate Letter, Retail Traffic, Lodging, Multifamily Trends, Real Estate Portfolio, Shopping Center World, Mortgage Banking and Urban Land. His books include After the Fall: Opportunities and Strategies for Real Estate Investing in the Coming Decade, Maverick Real Estate Financing: The Art of Raising Capital and Owning Properties Like Ross, Sanders and Carey, Maverick Real Estate Investing: The Art of Buying and Selling Properties Like Trump, Zell, Simon, the World’s Greatest Land Owners, Passport to Exotic Real Estate: Buying U.S. And Foreign Property In Breath-Taking, Beautiful, Faraway Lands, and Growing Up Levittown: In a Time of Conformity, Controversy and Cultural Crises. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
As a "fictional" account of real people and real incidents, ie the circumstances surrounding Johnny's suicide and the main players, it was an enjoyable interactive experience. Interactive, because I found myself spending as much time fact checking as reading. The research activity was not at all unpleasant. In the end, though, I was still left confused and wanting to know what was truth and what was fiction.
Bergsman has correctly reported the broad general facts surrounding Ace, Don Robey, and the other participants in the Memphis and Houston music scene. He then skillfully creates a plot and dialogue that is very believable. Then things get confusing as he takes liberties that don't need to be taken. For example creating a scenario where Big Mama Thornton is on stage when Ace dies, rather than in his dressing room with him.
Don Robey was a larger than life character in black entertainment history and it sounds like so was Johnny Ace if we can rely on Bergsman's protrayal. With Bergsman's obvious knowledge of the time and characters, I would like to have finished the book knowing that I had read an actual historical account as opposed to a quasi-fictional one.
Finally, I have a few nits to pick with the misspellings and inaccuracies in a couple of obvious places. Example "...King...heard almost every 78-inch recording that had been made." And when talking about radio station WDIA, "In the center of the record station sat a small room..." There are a few more but as an ex dj and 78 rpm record collector, those were the two that had me flinch.
All that said, I liked Bergsmans style, I enjoyed his premise and I had fun reading this book. Mostly I appreciate him bringing more attention to Johnny Ace, Don Robey and the early days of WDIA and Duke Records.
The book takes the reader on a nostalgic journey with glimpses into the lives of musical greats such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, and many more.
The Death of Johnny Ace also provides a good look at what it was like to live as an African American in the south during that era, giving an appreciation for how far our country has come yet how far we still have to go.
Although there was never a doubt that Johnny shot himself, it was never disclosed if the act was intentional or accidental. The author offers a very possible series of events that leads to a surprising ending.
Steve Bergsman's talent lies in his wonderful descriptions that pulls you in, makes you feel you are right there. I didn't want the book to end. I wanted to stay with BB King, and all the artists Mr. Bergman entwines around Johnny Ace as he becomes famous. I couldn't wait to find out what happened to Johnny Ace. I highly recommend you read this book, you won't be let down. Excellent writer, excellent story teller. I am anxious for his next book. Five star read.