Ace Cannon – One of the premiere saxophonists during his day


Short career summary on Ace Cannon

Ace Cannon is an American tenor and alto saxophonist born in Mississippi in 1934. Cannon began playing the instrument when he was still a child, and during the first days of rock and roll he signed with Sun Records. One of the foremost session musicians from the late 1950s throughout the early 1970s, Cannon’s biggest charting single was a self-penned instrumental track called “Tuff,” which went both to the Top 20 R&B and pop singles charts in 1962. He also scored other hits including “Blues (Stay Away From Me),” “Sugar Blues,” “Searchin’,” and other minor hits. Cannon is an inductee of both the Rock and Soul Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Early life and career

Alto and tenor saxophonist Ace Cannon was born John Cannon in Grenada, Mississippi on May 5, 1934. He began playing the saxophone when he was just en years old. During the early days of rock and roll Cannon signed with Sun Records, the label where Elvis Presley also became a contract artist. He also signed with Hi Records, and toured with his labelmate Bill Black’s Combo before starting a solo career in 1961.

Cannon’s solo career and his biggest hit single “Tuff”

Cannon’s first single was an instrumental number titled “Tuff,” which he wrote himself. During “Tuff”‘s recording session Cannon employed the services of the Black combo as his backing group. “Tuff” was released in late 1961. It eventually became a hit, peaking at #17 on the Billboard pop singles chart, and #3 on the Billboard R&B singles chart n early 1962.

Other hits

Cannon followed the success of “Tuff” with “Blues (Stay Away From Me),” written by Rabon Delmore, Alton Delmore, Wayne Raney and Henry Glover. It went on the Top 40 pop at #36. It was to be his last Top 40 single. Cannon managed to etch the lower regions of the charts, mostly on the “Bubbling Under” the Hot 100. They include “Sugar Blues,” “Volare,” “Since I Met You Baby,” “Cottonfields,” “Swanee River,” “Searchin’,” “Empty Arms,” “Sea Cruise,” “Funny (How Time Slips Away)” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”

Cannon’s later career and some interesting trivia about him

In 1974, Cannon became the subject of the documentary Ace’s High.

Cannon moved to Nashville in the mid-1970s. He made his own rendition of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” which became a sizable country singles chart hit in 1977, and was even nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Country Instrumental Performance that same year.

After many of years of touring and performing around the world (and playing with many such rock and roll greats as Carl Perkins), Cannon moved to Calhoun City, Mississippi in the late 1980s, and he still resides there up to present. Cannon is still making live appearances, playing several dates each year since the 1990s, while taking up his hobby playing golf at his home course.

Cannon was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, Rock and Soul Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Musician’s Hall of Fame. In his honor, Calhoun City hosted its first Ace Cannon festival in the spring of 2007.

Because of his tremendous achievements with his choice instrument, Cannon is often called as the “Godfather of Sax”

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