Monday, November 5, 2007

A Fresh Look at Ernest Withers

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2007 at 4:00 AM

"On Christmas Day, 1954, an inebriated young singer named John Marshall Alexander Jr. took a break between sets at the City Auditorium in Houston, Texas, and played a game of Russian roulette, pulling the trigger on a revolver—first on his girlfriend, Olivia Gibbs, then on her friend, Mary Carter. The gun failed to go off. The third time, when he pointed the gun at himself, the hammer finally fell on a bullet in the chamber, killing Alexander—a.k.a. 'Johnny Ace', instantly.

"'Big Mama' Thornton was a witness to Ace's death, but the name of the witness on his death certificate when Ace was buried on Jan. 2, 1955 was Ernest C. Withers ...

"In the late spring of 2004, I was wandering down Beale Street in Memphis when I happened to look above a door and notice a faded, torn piece of paper that had the words 'Ernest C. Withers, photographer,' scrawled on it ..."

Photographer Eric Meola has written a moving and evocative story about the late Ernest Withers. Read it here.

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