Big Mama Thornton
Big Mama Thornton was sitting backstage performing at the City Auditorium in Houston, Texas, on Christmas Day 1954. During a break between sets, Johnny Ace was playing with a .32 caliber revolver. Members of Ace’s band said he did this often, sometimes shooting at roadside signs from their car.
It was widely reported that Ace killed himself playing Russian roulette. However, Thornton’s bass player, Curtis Tillman, who witnessed the event, said, “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 okay! Gun’s not loaded… see?’ and pointed it at himself with a smile on his face and ‘Bang!’.
Right in front of Big Mama Thornton.
Final Resting Place:
Inglewood Park Cemetery
720 E Florence Avenue
Inglewood, California, 90301
Grave Location:Section M, Lot 2486
Grave Location Description
Parking at the intersection of Regent and Avenue of Champions, walk across the expansive lawn to the chain-link fence and turn right. Walking an additional 14 spaces along the fence line to find the shared grave of Big Mama Thornton. And that folks is a damn shame.