Top of Free Internet Radio content area

Johnny Horton

Horton was born in Los Angeles, to John Loly Horton (1889–1959) and the former Ella Claudia Robinson (1892–1966), the youngest of five siblings, and reared in Rusk, Texas. His family often traveled to California to work as migrant fruit pickers. After graduation from high school in Gallatin, Texas, in 1944, Horton attended the Methodist-affiliated Lon Morris Junior College in Jacksonville, Texas, with a basketball scholarship. He later attended Seattle University and briefly Baylor University in Waco, although he did not graduate from any of these institutions.

Horton soon returned to California and found work in the mail room of Hollywood's Selznick Studio. It was here that he met his future first wife, secretary Donna Cook.

Horton and his older brother, Frank, briefly pursued the study of geology at Seattle, Washington, in 1948 but both ended after a few weeks. He went to Florida, then back to California before leaving for Alaska to look for gold. It was during this period that he began writing songs. He joined Frank in Seattle, went south to Los Angeles, then after Frank married, left for Texas. After much prodding from his sister Marie, he entered a talent contest at the Reo Palm Isle club in Longview, Texas, sponsored by radio station KGRI in Henderson and hosted by station radio announcer and future country music star Jim Reeves. Horton won first prize—an ashtray on a pedestal. Encouraged by the contest, he returned to California, bought some Western-style clothes and entered talent contests.

Horton came to the attention of entrepreneur Fabor Robison, whose first job as manager was to give him a job with Cliffie Stone's Hometown Jamboree on KXLA-TV in Pasadena, California. During his early guest performances he worked with musicians such as Merle Travis and Tennessee Ernie Ford. The station then gave him a regular half-hour Saturday night program billed as The Singing Fisherman, during which he sang and displayed his casting skills with a fishing rod. Around this time he also hosted the radio program Hacienda Party Time for KLAC-TV in Los Angeles.

A mixture of Horton's television performances and Robison's acquaintances earned him a couple of singles with the minor Cormac recording company. The first single coupled "Plaid And Calico" with "Done Rovin'" and the second "Coal Smoke, Valve Oil and Steam" with "Birds and Butterflies". After the Cormac label ceased operation, Robinson acquired the masters and started his own company named Abbott Records. By mid-1952, ten Horton singles had been issued but none was successful. They were, for the most part, ordinary western-style songs.

After marriage to Donna and a honeymoon in Palm Springs, he located to Shreveport to be near the Louisiana Hayride, on which he appeared on a regular basis. Robison persuaded Mercury Records A&R man Walter Kilpatrick to hire Horton, who began with his songs "First Train Headin' South" b/w "(I Wished for an Angel) The Devil Sent Me You" (Mercury 6412), with good reviews by the trade newspapers.

Horton was married twice. His first marriage, to Donna Cook, ended with a divorce granted in Rusk, Texas. In September 1953, he married Billie Jean Jones, the widow of country music singer Hank Williams. (She was Williams' second wife.) With Billie Jean, Horton had two daughters, Yanina (Nina) and Melody. Billie Jean's daughter, Jeri Lynn, was also legally adopted by Johnny.

John Gale Horton (April 30, 1925 – November 5, 1960), known professionally as Johnny Horton, 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 "North to Alaska," in John Wayne's hit film, North to Alaska; and "Sink the Bismarck". Horton was also a rockabilly singer, and was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

50s, 60s Hits

North To Alaska

Members of this Group


kinger1230

The Bee

YankMetGaiJet111

Krusty

coubriana

clubuser08

Jeff

Comments

There are currently no comments.
Share Johnny Horton! Tell your friends about Johnny Horton on 977music - share the joy of on-demand artist playlists!

Albums