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Johnny Horton

Johnny Horton (April 30, 1925 – November 5, 1960) was an American country music singer who was most famous for his semi-folk, so-called "saga songs" which launched the "historical ballad" craze of the late 1950s and early 1960s. With them, he had several major crossover hits, most notably in 1959 with "The Battle of New Orleans" which won the 1960 Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording. The song won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award and in 2001 was named number 333 of the Songs of the Century. In 1960, Horton had two other crossover hits with "Sink the Bismarck" and "North to Alaska".

Horton was also a rockabilly singer, and was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Career

Horton was born John Gale Horton in Los Angeles but raised in the town of Rusk in East Texas. His family trekked back and forth from California often as migrant fruit pickers but always returned to the Rusk/Gallatin area in Texas. After graduation from Gallatin High School in 1944, he attended on a basketball scholarship the Methodist-affiliated Lon Morris College (then called "Lon Morris Junior College") in Jacksonville, Texas, the oldest junior college in the state. Although he did not graduate from Lon Morris or any other college, he later attended Seattle University. Thereafter, he worked in California and Alaska. He returned to Texas and won a talent contest hosted by then-radio announcer Jim Reeves at the Reo Palm Isle club in Longview, the seat of Gregg County, and soon starred in the popular Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana. He remained a member of the Hayride until his death.

In September 1953, he married Billie Jean Jones, who, in late 1952, had also been married to country music star Hank Williams for two and a half months prior to his death. Horton's first marriage to Donna Cook ended in a divorce, granted in Rusk. With Billie Jean, Johnny had two daughters, Yanina (Nina) and Melody. Billie Jean's daughter, Jerry, was also part of the family.

Death

On November 5, 1960, Horton was killed instantly in a head-on collision with a drunk driver on Highway 79 at Milano, Texas while he was returning home from a performance at the Skyline Club in Austin.

There is no truth to the rumor that Horton was on his way to Dallas to meet actor Ward Bond about a role on the NBC television series Wagon Train. Bond was in Dallas at the time attending a football game. Bond died of a heart attack in Dallas just hours after Horton perished in the vehicular accident. A "Horton" did appear on Wagon Train — the actor Robert Horton, who portrayed the fictitious scout "Flint McCullough."

Horton is buried in the Hillcrest Cemetery in Haughton east of Bossier City in northwestern Louisiana. He loved fishing as much, if not more, than singing and was once billed as "The Singing Fisherman." His favorite fishing holes abound through the Piney Woods of East Texas and northern Louisiana.

Some songs with racist titles and content by Johnny Rebel are often falsely attributed to Horton. The confusion may have arisen because Horton had a hit named "Johnny Reb".

Horton was posthumously inducted into the Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame in Ferriday, Louisiana.

Coincidences

  • Johnny Cash was a good friend of Horton. When he learned about the collision, he said "[I] locked myself in one of the hotel's barrooms, and cried." Cash also dedicates his rendition of " When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)" to Horton on his Personal File "Johnny Horton was a good old friend of mine."
  • Johnny Horton reportedly had experienced premonitions several months before his own death about the possibility of dying in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. He always said that if he was in a head-on situation to drive into the ditch. His accident took place on a bridge so there was no ditch for which to head.
  • Also in connection with these premonitions, a story circulates that Horton, known to detest musicians who drank, had agreed to send his friend Merle Kilgore a message from beyond the grave. Ten years later, Kilgore heard from a group of psychics from New York of an apparition in a cowboy hat, whose message was "the drummer is a rummer and can't hold the beat." (recounted in "The View From Nashville", by Ralph Emery)
  • Both Horton and Hank Williams were married to the same woman at the time of their death, and played their last shows at the Skyline Club in Austin, Texas.
  • Both Horton and Hank Williams died in Cadillacs.
  • Johnny and the Rowley Trio, (Jerry, Evelyn, and Vera), were returning from a performance when they heard over the radio about the death of Hank Williams. They were on Highway 79 going through the town of Milano, Texas — the same town where Johnny would lose his life seven years later.

Top 40 Country Hits

  • "Honky-Tonk Man" (1956)
  • "I'm a One-Woman Man" (1956)
  • "I'm Coming Home" (1957)
  • "The Woman I Need" (1957)
  • "All Grown Up" (1958)
  • "When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)" (1959) **First #1 Hit**
  • "The Battle of New Orleans" (1959) **Second #1 Hit**
  • "Johnny Reb" (1959)
  • "Sal's Got a Sugar Lip" (1959)
  • "Sink the Bismark" (1960) (the correct spelling of the referenced battleship is Bismarck)
  • "North to Alaska" (1960) **Third and last #1 hit - It topped the charts after his death**
  • "Sleepy-Eyed John" (1961)
  • "Honky-Tonk Man" (1962) re-release
  • "All Grown Up" (1963) re-release

Complete Discography

As per a current box set of his work here is a complete discography of Johnny Horton's work.

  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 01 - I'm A One Woman Man
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 02 - Honky Tonk Man
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 03 - I'm Ready If You're Willing
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 04 - I Got A Hole In My Pirogue
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 05 - Take Me Like I Am
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 06 - Sugar-Coated Baby
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 07 - I Don't Like I Did
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 08 - Hooray For That Little Difference
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 09 - I'm Coming Home
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 10 - Over-Loving You
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 11 - She Knows Why
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 12 - Honky Tonk Mind (The Woman I Need)
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 13 - Tell My Baby I Love Her
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 14 - Goodbye Lonesome, Hello Baby Doll
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 15 - I'll Do It Everytime
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 16 - You're My Baby
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 17 - Let's Take The Long Way Home
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 18 - Lover's Rock
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 19 - Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 20 - The Wild One
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 21 - Everytime I'm Kissng You
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 22 - Hot In The Sugarcane Field
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 23 - Lonesome And Heartbroken
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 24 - Seven Come Eleven
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 25 - I Can't Forget You
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 26 - Wise To The Ways Of A Woman
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 27 - Out In New Mexico
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 28 - Tetched In The Head
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 29 - Just Walk A Little Closer
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 30 - Don't Use My Heart For A Stepping Stone
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 31 - I Love You Baby
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 1 / 32 - Wise To The Ways Of A Woman
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 01 - Counterfeit Love
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 02 - Mister Moonlight
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 03 - All Grown Up
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 04 - Got The Bull By The Horns
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 05 - When It's Springtime In Alaska
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 06 - Whispering Pines
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 07 - The Battle Of New Orleans
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 08 - All For The Love Of A Girl
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 09 - Lost Highway
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 10 - Sam Magee
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 11 - Cherokee Boogie
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 12 - The Golden Rocket
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 13 - The Battle Of New Orleans (British Version)
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 14 - Joe's Been A-Gittin' There
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 15 - The First Train Headin' South
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 16 - Got The Bull By The Horns
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 17 - Sal's Got A Sugerlip
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 18 - Words
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 19 - Johnny Reb
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 20 - Sal's Got A Sugarlip
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 21 - Ole Slew Foot
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 22 - I'm Ready If Your Willing
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 23 - Take Me Like I Am
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 24 - They Shined Up Rudolph's Nose
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 25 - The Electrified Donkey
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 26 - The Same Old Tale The Crow Told Me
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 27 - Sink The Bismarck
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 28 - Sink The Bismarck
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 29 - The Same Old Tale The Crow Told Me
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 30 - All Grown Up
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 2 / 31 - Got The Bull By The Horns
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 01 - Ole Slew Foot
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 02 - Miss Marcy
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 03 - Sleepy Eyed John
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 04 - The Mansion You Stole
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 05 - They'll Never Take Her Love From Me
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 06 - The Sinking Of Reuben James
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 07 - Jim Bridger
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 08 - The Battle Of Bull Run
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 09 - Snow-Shoe Thompson
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 10 - John Paul Jones
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 11 - Comanche (The Brave Horse)
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 12 - Young Abe Lincoln
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 13 - O'Leary's Cow
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 14 - Johnny Freedom
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 15 - Go North!
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 16 - North To Alaska
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 17 - North To Alaska
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 18 - I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Livin'
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 19 - Rock Island Line
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 20 - Hank And Joe And Me
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 21 - The Golden Rocket
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 22 - A-Sleeping At The Foot Of The Bed
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 23 - I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Livin'
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 24 - Old Blind Barnabas
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 25 - Evil Hearted Me
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 26 - Hot In The Sugarcane Field
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 27 - You Don't Move Me Baby Anymore
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 28 - The Gosh-Darn Wheel
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 29 - Broken Hearted Gypsy
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 3 / 30 - The Church By The Side Of The Road
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 01 - The Vanishing Race
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 02 - Broken Hearted Gypsy
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 03 - That Boy Got The Habit
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 04 - Hot In The Sugarcane Field
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 05 - You Don't Move Me Baby Anymore
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 06 - The Church By The Side Of The Road
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 07 - I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Livin'
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 08 - Take It Like A Man
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 09 - Hank And Joe And Me
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 10 - The Golden Rocket
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 11 - Old Blind Barnabas
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 12 - Empty Bed Blues
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 13 - Rock Island Line
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 14 - Shake, Rattle And Roll
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 15 - A-Sleeping At The Foot Of The Bed
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 16 - Old Dan Tucker
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 17 - The Gosh Darn Wheel
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 18 - From Memphis To Mobile
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 19 - Back Up Train
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 20 - Schottische In Texas
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 21 - Take It LIke A Man
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 22 - That Boy Got The Habit
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 23 - My Heart Stopped, Trembled And Died
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 24 - Alley Girl Ways
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 25 - How You Gonna Make It
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 26 - Witch Walking Baby
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 27 - Down That River Road
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 28 - Big Wheels Rollin'
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 29 - I Got A Slow Leak In My Heart
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 30 - You Don't Move Me Baby Anymore
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 31 - What Will I Do Without You
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 32 - Janey
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 33 - Streets Of Dodge
  • Johnny Horton 1956-1960 - Vol 4 / 34 - Give Me Back My Picture And You Can Keep The Frame

References

  • Escott, Colin. (1998). "Johnny Horton". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 247-8.

External links

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