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Johnny Horton

Although he is better-remembered for his historical songs, Johnny Horton was one of the best and most popular honky tonk singers of the late '50s. Horton managed to infuse honky tonk with an urgent rockabilly underpinning. His career may have been cut short by a fatal car crash in 1960, but his music reverberated throughout the next three decades.

Horton was born in Los Angeles in 1925, the son of sharecropping parents. During his childhood, his family continually moved between California and Texas, in an attempt to find work. His mother taught him how to play guitar at the age of 11. Horton graduated from high school in 1944 and attended a Methodist seminary with the intent of joining a ministry. After a short while, he left the seminary and began traveling across the country, eventually moving to Alaska in 1949 to become a fisherman. While he was in Alaska, he began writing songs in earnest.

The following year, Horton moved back to east Texas, where he entered a talent contest hosted by Jim Reeves, who was then an unknown vocalist. He won the contest, which encouraged him to pursue a career as a performer. Horton started out by playing talent contests throughout Texas, which is where he gained the attention of Fabor Robison, a music manager that was notorious for his incompetence and his scams. In early 1951, Robison became Horton's manager and managed to secure him a recording contract with Corman Records. However, shortly after his signing, the label folded. Robison then founded his own label, Abbott Records, with the specific intent of recording Horton. None of these records had any chart success. During 1951, Horton began performing on various Los Angeles TV shows and hosted a radio show in Pasadena, where he performed under the name "the Singing Fisherman." By early 1952, Robison had moved Horton to Mercury Records.

At the end of 1951, Horton relocated from California to Shreveport, LA, where he became a regular on the Louisiana Hayride. However, Lousiana was filled with pitfalls -- his first wife left him shortly after the move, and Robison severed all ties with Horton when he became Reeves' manager. During 1952, Hank Williams rejoined the cast of the Hayride and became a kind of mentor for Horton. After Williams died on New Year's Eve of 1952, Horton became close with his widow, Billie Jean; the couple married in September of 1953.

Although he had a regular job on the Hayride, Horton's recording career was going nowhere -- none of his Mercury records were selling, and rock & roll was beginning to overtake country's share of the market place. Horton's fortunes changed in the latter half of 1955, when he hired Webb Pierce's manager Tillman Franks as his own manager and quit Mercury Records. Franks had Pierce help him secure a contract for Horton with Columbia Records by the end of 1955. The change in record labels breathed life into Horton's career. At his first Columbia session, he cut "Honky Tonk Man," his first single for the label and one that would eventually become a honky tonk classic. By the spring of 1956, the song had reached the country Top Ten and Horton was well on his way to becoming a star.

"Honky Tonk Man" was edgy enough to have Horton grouped in on the more country-oriented side of rockabilly. Wearing a large cowboy hat to hide his receding hairline, he became a popular concert attraction and racked up three more hit singles -- "I'm a One-Woman Man" (number seven), "I'm Coming Home" (number 11), "The Woman I Need" (number nine) -- in the next year. However, the hits dried up just as quickly as they arrived; for the latter half of 1957 and 1958, he didn't hit the charts at all. Horton responded by cutting some rockabilly, which was beginning to fall out of favor by the time his singles were released.

In the fall of 1958, he bounced back with the Top Ten "All Grown Up," but it wasn't until the ballad "When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)" hit the charts in early 1959 that he achieved a comeback. The song fit neatly into the folk-based story songs that were becoming popular in the late '50s, and it climbed all the way to number one. Its success inspired his next single, "The Battle of New Orleans." Taken from a 1958 Jimmie Driftwood album, the song was a historical saga song like "When It's Springtime in Alaska," but it was far more humorous. It was also far more successful, topping the country charts for ten weeks and crossing over into the pop charts, where it was number one for six weeks. After the back-to-back number one successes of "When It's Spring Time in Alaska" and "The Battle of New Orleans," Horton concentrated solely on folky saga songs. "Johnny Reb" became a Top Ten hit in the fall of 1959, and "Sink the Bismarck" was a Top Ten hit in the spring of 1960, followed by the number one hit "North to Alaska" in the fall of 1960.

Around the time of "North to Alaska"'s November release, Horton claimed that he was getting premonitions of an early death. Sadly, his premonitions came true. On November 4, 1960, he suffered a car crash driving home to Shreveport after a concert in Austin, TX. Horton was still alive after the wreck, but he died on the way to the hospital; the other passengers in his car had severe injuries, but they survived. Although he died early in his career, Horton left behind a recorded legacy that proved to be quite influential. Artists like George Jones and Dwight Yoakam have covered his songs, and echoes of Horton's music can still be heard in honky tonk and country-rock music well into the '90s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Johnny Horton 1956-1960 Vol. 1

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4

Comments

Http://www.c o m / s e a r c h ? c l i e n t = s a f a r i & r l s = e n 8 q = D o n ' t + r e a d + t h i s + i t + a c t u a l l y + w o r k s . Y o u + w i l l + b e + k i s s e d + b y + t h e + l o v e + o f + y o u r + l i f e + T o m o r r o w +
Not the gators head
My favorite singer ❤
My grandpa lusten to ris when I was 8 yrs old got to like'n him proably alot older most of you still listen to him
One of my favorites. Grew up listening to this
Funny, born in British Columbia and this song was not played on local stations. Thank goodness radio waves didn't recognize the internationa l border!
He knew history and great songs
love this song
he is my 3 rd cousin he died in a car reck

Pure honest singer
http://www.g o o g l e . c o m / s e a r c h ? c l i e n t = s a f a r i & r l s = e n & q = D o n ' t + r e a d + t h i s + c a u s e + i t + a c t u a l l y + w o r k s . + Y o u + w i l l + b e + k i s s e d + o n + t h e + n e a r e s t + p o s s i b l e + F r i d a y + b y + t h e + l o v e + o f + y o u r + l i f e . + T o m o r r o w + w i l l + b e + t h e + b e s t + d a y + o f + y o u r + l i f e . + H o w e v e r + i f + y o u + d o n ' t + p o s t + t h i s + y o u + w i l l + d i e
Amen
gibbslarryd
Why is Pandora playing the British version? Ruins the mood of the song.
This what Country is all abuot
http://www.g o o g l e . c o m / s e a r c h ? c l i e n t = s a f a r i & r l s = e n & q = D o n ' t + r e a d + t h i s + c a u s e + i t + a c t u a l l y + w o r k s . + Y o u + w i l l + b e + k i s s e d + o n + t h e + n e a r e s t + p o s s i b l e + F r i d a y + b y + t h e + l o v e + o f + y o u r + l i f e . + T o m o r r o w + w i l l + b e + t h e + b e s t + d a y + o f + y o u r + l i f e . + H o w e v e r + i f + y o u + d o n ' t + p o s t + t h i s + y o u + w i l l + d i e + i n + 2 + d a y s . + N o w + y o u ' v e + s t a r t e d + r e a d i n g + s o + d o n ' t + s t o p . + T h i s + i s + s o + s c a r y . + P u t + t h i s + o n + a t + l e a s t + 5 + s o n g s + i n + 1 4 3 + m i n u t e s . + W h e n + d o n e + p r e s s + f 6 + a n d + y o u r + l o v e r s + n a m e + w i l l + c o m e + o n + t h e + s c r e e n + i n + b i g + l e t t e r s . + T h i s + i s + s c a r y + c a u s e + i t + r e a l l y + w o r k s + D o n ' t + r e a d +
codyryan1492
Im 21 way before my time but I grew up listening to Horton he was way before my dads time but he's where I got it from I just don't see why I never here Horton at the country bars
I'm 43 my gtandpa listen to Johnny Horton when i was real little i still love to listen to Johnny
My wife lived in Englang for two years - drove around with all the car windows down playing The Battle Of New Orleans!!
It is a shame that Johnny Horton has not been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame...HUGE oversight in my opinion!
my brother loved this!
It really sad that his life was ended and his music career only lasted 3 years and the lyrics on mine are singing Johnny reb?
GOSPEL SONG BY GEORGE BEVERLY SHEA
I am so mad because is life was cut short
OK, now I see, they recorded a British version of the song using the word rebel in place of the word British! (thus the english version!) of the Battle of New Orleans...NO W i understand!
jonny horton will always be one my all time faverites
Peter Noone (Herman's Hermits) started singing this song to begin a concert I went to two years ago, then stopped abruptly after one verse and said in his inimitable British accent, I hate that song!. Loved Johnny Horton and all his hits.
Johnny horton was a good friend to Johnny cash until his dump car wreak in 1960
jclick18
I love your music old memories - error inemail will contact as soon as I get fixed-like to listen music while I draw cartoons thank you -Jim
Happy 83 Birthday Johnny horton best singer in the world died at 35 in Car wreak in 1960 which is dump I wish he was still alive today and in 1960s
This guy reminds me of my grandparents and going on road trips with them. They'd play Johnny Horton over and over again. Nostalgic and quality funny songs.
LOL! I love the part about using an alligator for a cannon!
they dont come this good anymore
Absolutely one of the greatest singers EVER!
truly a great country star - we love his singing and music
johnny horton is right up there with johnny cash!!!:(
firsttime i heard johnny horton, i thought i,m a honkytonk man too. dwight yoakum did a great version of that song.
I was also brought up listening to Jonny Horton with my grandma who died two years ago I miss her
how do i download. i have downloaded program now how do i continue please help withadvice?
I was brought up listening to Johnny Horton on the radio with my family and friends, and it never ceases to amaze me of how this mans singing can make you not only listen but learn facts about American history while enjoying true blue country music.in my opinion he was taken away from us too soon by a lowly drunk driver,
Ending the life of this country great.
Love this song!
I just heard the British version by Johnny Horton for the first time. prior to this I had heard Lonnie Donegan's version. Since Lonnie himself was British I knew he changed the lyrics, but at the beginning of the song he made mention of the fact that the Brits lost.
mrp95020
Horton also recorded a version of The Battle of New Orleans in which the British WON the battle! This was for release in the UK, where the BBC refused to play his hit version, I am told because of the phrase bloody British. I've heard it, I know it's true!
i sang the Battle of New Orleans on the stage in the eight grade. he was an inspirationa l hero to a young boy who just loved that beat.
tracycrft89
I think one of my history teachers introduced me to him (not sure on this one). But, I do love hearing his historical songs.
love this mans music ever since I was a child
rhon6464
anyone know where I can get the lyrics to Battle of New Orleans? rhon sixtyfour on FB.
jb4721
he also started up a lure making business in Natchitoches , La.
ansolar
Johnny Horton's Greatest Hits was the first album I ever bought. He has been one of my favorite artists since the 60s. I especially like the historical songs.
got battle of new orleans on 45rpm
hmmm it was edited :( suppose to be the British not rebels because really the Americans were the rebels which make the song backwards
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