Johnny Vincent producer, song publisher and owner of Ace Records. >
Vincent started the Champion label in the early 1950s, issuing blues singles by Arthur ''Big
Boy'' Crudup of Forest and Jackson musicians Joe Dyson and Bernard ''Bunny'' Williams. In
1953 Vincent signed on as a talent scout for Los Angeles-based Specialty Records.
notable production for Specialty was ''The Things I Used to Do'', recorded in New Orleans by
Guitar Slim, aka Eddie Jones, a native of Greenwood.
Featuring Ray Charles on piano, the
song was one of the biggest rhythm and blues hits of the 1950s. During his tenure with
Specialty Vincent also supervised sessions by John Lee Hooker, Kenzie Moore, and others.
In 1955 Vincent started Ace, named after the Ace Combs brand. The label's first hit,
''Those Lonely, Lonely Nights'' by New Orleans bluesman Earl King, was recorded at
Trumpet Records' Diamond Recording Studio at 309 North Farish Street. Ace became the
first important regional label for New Orleans music, scoring national hits by Louisiana
artists Huey Smith and the Clowns, ''Don't You Just Know It'', Frankie Ford's ''Sea
Cruise'', and Jimmy Clanton, a ''teen idol'' whose ''Just A Dream'' topped the rhythm and
blues charts in 1960.
Among the Ace artists who recorded either at the New Orleans studio of Cosimo Matassa or
here in Jackson in the 1950s and 1960s were Sam Myers, Joe Tex, Bobby Marchan, James
Booker, Charles Brown, Joe Dyson, Lee Dorsey, Rufus McKay, Scotty McKay, Big Boy Myles,
Tim Whitsett, and Mac Rebennack, later known as ''Dr. John''.
In 1962 Vincent signed a potentially lucrative distribution deal with Vee-Jay Records of
Chicago, but that label's bankruptcy in 1966 was catastrophic for Ace. In the 1970s
Vincent revamped Ace, making new recordings as well as repackaging old hits, but had
only limited success. He turned to various other enterprises, including a restaurant, but
returned to the record business with full force in the early 1990s, as he reoriented Ace to
the contemporary soul-blues market with a roster that included Mississippi-born singers
Cicero Blake, Robert ''The Duke'' Tillman, J. T. Watkins, Pat Brown, and Willie Clayton.
The latter pair had success with the duet ''Equal Opportunity''. In 1997 Vincent sold Ace to
the British firm Music Collection International but started a new label, Avanti, and
continued to record soul-blues artists. Vincent died on February 4, 2000 on heart failure.
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©