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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Johnny Horton born 30 April 1925

John Gale "Johnny" Horton (April 30, 1925 – November 5, 1960) was an American country music and rockabilly singer most famous for his semi-folk, so-called "saga songs" which began the "historical ballad" craze of the late 1950s and early 1960s. With them, he had several major successes, most notably in 1959 with the song "The Battle of New Orleans" (written by Jimmy Driftwood), which was awarded the 1960 Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording. The song was awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame Award, and in 2001 ranked No. 333 of the Recording Industry Association of America's "Songs of the Century". His first hit, a number 1 song in 1959, was "When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)".
During 1960, Horton had two other successes with "North to Alaska" for John Wayne's movie, North to Alaska, and "Sink the Bismarck". Horton is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame

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. (Photo above -  Johny Horton in the middle flanked by Tillman Franks on bass & Tommy Tomlinson on electric guitar)

In 1950 he began singing country music on KXLA,Pasadena, Texas, and then proceeded to Cliffie Stone's "Hometown Jamboree" on KLAC-TV. 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.

He joined the “Louisiana Hayride” in 1955 and performed under the name the Singing Fisherman. Companies he recorded with included Mercury, Dot, and Columbia. Horton was known for his versatility, but his specialty was honky-tonk. In 1956 he had his first hit, "Honky Tonk Man" as well as a few other singles that achieved respectable positions on the country and western charts.
1957 and 1958 were lean years, but his career peaked in 1959 and 1960 with the historically-flavored smashes "When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)," "The Battle of New Orleans," "Johnny Reb," "Sink the Bismark," and "North to Alaska." However, this formula eventually started to wear thin, requiring Horton and Franks to come up with another musical reinvention. They never received the opportunity to do so.
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 on November 5, 1960. Horton was still alive when he was pulled from the wreckage, but he died on the way to hospital in Cameron. With him in the car were Tillman Franks and guitarist Tommy

Tomlinson, who were badly injured, but survived. 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.

Horton is buried in the Hillcrest Cemetery in Haughton east of Bossier City, Louisiana. He loved fishing as much, if not more, than singing. His favorite fishing holes abound through the Piney Woods of East Texas and northern Louisiana.
After Horton’s death, the vaults were raided, and unreleased songs would continue to be released for years to come.  A stash of home recorded demos turned up, and several of these were overdubbed by the Nashville A-Team and released on album. Although Johnny Horton’s personal life was filled with huge successes, hard times, and a tragic early death, fifty years later we are left with the voice—that magical voice that has calmed and soothed and entertained millions over the years.  Magic like that can’t be manufactured.

Johnny Horton will forever be remembered for his major contribution to both country and rockabilly music. He was a real easy going guy who was happiest when fishing or just messing about and that's perhaps how he should be remembered. Claude King summed him up best when he quoted Horton telling him "Don't ever worry, Ace, you'll get a wrinkle". (info various mainly Wikipedia)


1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For The essential Johnny Horton go here:


Disc 1 (all tracks monaural)

1. Honky Tonk Man
2. I'm a One Woman Man
3. Take Me Like I Am
4. I Don't Like I Did (Before)
5. Hooray for That Little Difference
6. I'm Coming Home
7. She Knows Why
8. The Woman I Need (Honky Tonk Mind)
9. Goodbye Lonesome (Hello, Baby Doll)
10 I'll Do It Every Time
11. Let's Take the Long Way Home
12. Lover's Rock
13. Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor
14. The Wild One
15. Hot in the Sugarcane Field
16. Wise to the Ways of a Woman
17. Out in New Mexico
18. I Love You Baby

Disc 2 (all tracks stereo)

1. All Grown Up
2. Got the Bull by the Horns
3. When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)
4. The Battle of New Orleans
5. Lost Highway
6. Cherokee Boogie
7. The Golden Rocket
8. Words
9. Johnny Reb
10. Sal's Got a Sugar Lip
11. The Electrified Donkey
12. Sink the Bismark
13. Ole Slew Foot
14. Sleepy-Eyed John
15. The Mansion You Stole
16. North to Alaska
17. Evil Hearted Me
18. You Don't Move Me Baby Anymore

Anthologies are the best way to go with Johnny Horton. In spite of his talents, his discography is inconsistent, featuring as many low points as high ones. For the most part, Honky Tonk Man: The Essential Johnny Horton 1956-1960 does a fine job of separating the wheat from the chaff.

For Johnny Hortin 1956 - 1960 (112 bitrate only)

CD 1 go here:

CD 2 go here:

CD 3 go here:

CD 4 go here: