Thanks, Mr. Koenig, for the post. Yes, "deck" is an oldtime jailhouse term for a pack of smokes. It's always good to get a compliment from a proof reader. They're the fellows who keep us off the shoals.
My favorite was "The Night Johnny Ace Died." I was in high school at that time and I read about it Down Beat magazine. "Pledging My Love" was everybody's favorite slow dance song.
The commonly accepted explation was that Johnny Ace and the guys in his group were playing Russian Roulette backstage with a six shot pistol. Five guys had pointed the pistol at their heads, pulled the trigger and lived to tell the tale. The gun was given to Johnny Ace. He knew the bullet was in the chamber that he would be pointing at his head. Somebody called him 'Chicken' so he blew his brains out.
It's my impression that Big Mama Thorton was there, but she took her story to the grave. I saw her and B.B. King Perform at the Houston Auditorium in 1953. At that time whites has to sit in the balcony. It was a great concert, one in which she sang "You Ain't nothing but a Hound Dog."
Whoa MR. B, I am in awe that you were privy to hear and see them in person in that setting.... awesome. (course I'd be feeling the same if I was in an audience listening to you read one of your books....