Often inarticulate and always paranoid, Ace reveals little about his personal history. This much is known. He was born in east Texas. There was trouble as a boy and he took to the road. At some point, he picked up the rudiments of the guitar and harmonica. That, and petty theft, kept him afloat.
After a prison stint in Oklahoma he migrated to St. Louis to resume his life as a pick-up player. That brought him into the emerging rock ‘n’ roll business. For the next decade he was consistently at its fringe. It is said that he did the cover art for Duane Eddy’s first album and played harmonica on Bruce Chanel’s hit, Hey, Baby.
From his vast knowledge of legendary musicians and his sense of humor emerged his boards of painted collage. Critics quickly noted the strong colors and his work’s precision. (Ace attributes his sense of color to a period when he hid among Rastafarians in Jamaica. His precision is inexplicable—it is at odds with every other mental habit Ace has ever evidenced.) For many years he has wandered the South, producing art along with playing guitar in roadhouses now and then.
Rev. Johnny Ace is the alter ego of Terry Hammons, an academic Living in St. Simon’s Island, GA. He holds a Ph.D. in American Intellectual History and is the author of A Short History of American Pants and Bobby Vee, Prairie Romantic: A Critical Appraisal.