We use cookies to customize content and advertising, to provide social media features, and to analyze traffic to our site. We also share information about your use of our site with our trusted social media, advertising and analytics partners. Read more.

    Johnny Horton

    Become fan 4 Rate 1 Like & Share
    Genre:Country, Ethnic/Folk
    Rank:772 history »
    5.0/5 from 1 users

    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1Honky Tonk Man lyrics
    2Mansion You Stole lyrics
    I'm Coming Home lyrics
    4Rock Island Line lyrics
    5Everytime I'm Kissing You lyrics
    Sink the Bismark lyrics
    7I Love You Baby lyrics
    8In My Home in Shelby County lyrics
    9She Knows Why lyrics
    All for the Love of a Girl lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    1The Voice of Johnny Horton [Hilltop] [1965]
    2The Fantastic Johnny Horton [Mercury] [1959]
    3Johnny Horton [Dot] [1959]
    4The Spectacular Johnny Horton [Columbia] [1959]
    5Johnny Horton Makes History [Columbia] [1960]
    6Sings Free and Easy Songs [SESAC] [1958]
    7Done Rovin' [Briar] [1963]
    8Honky-Tonk Man [Columbia] [1962]
    9Johnny Horton's Greatest Hits [Columbia] [1961]
    10I Can't Forget You [Columbia] [1965]


    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, Louisiana 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.

    Pictures (1)

    Johnny Horton

    Fans (4)


    Similar Artists

    Miranda LambertAlan JacksonTrace AdkinsAlison Krauss (& Union Station)Cornelis VreeswijkDiamond RioPhil VassarAngus & Julia StoneNanci GriffithJack IngramSkeeter DavisMark WillsPriscilla AhnTyler FarrArlo Guthrie show more (16-31 of 60)

    More artists

    • popular on LSI
    • new on LSI


    Facebook (0) LetsSingIt (2)