Johnny HortonCountry Singer
Born: 30 April 1925
Died: 5 November 1960 (automobile crash)
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Best known as: Singer of 1959's "The Battle of New Orleans"
Johnny Horton was a country singer who also topped the pop charts with hits like "North to Alaska" and "The Battle of New Orleans." Horton first found an audience in the early 1950s as a regular peformer on The Louisiana Hayride, a radio show broadcast nationally from Shreveport, Louisiana. His hit singles crossed over to the pop charts in 1959 and 1960 and he became a national name. Known especially for "historical saga" songs, including "Johnny Reb" and "Sink the Bismarck," he is considered a pioneer of rockabilly music, a blend of honky tonk country with elements of rock and roll. His songs include "When It's Springtime in Alaska," "I'm A One-Woman Man" and "Honky Tonk Man." He was killed in an automobile accident in 1960, just after performing at the Skyline Club outside of Austin, Texas. The tragedy of his early death (he was 35) has since been complemented with a touch of the eerie. Not only are there rumors that Horton had predicted his untimely death, there's also the odd coincidence that his widow, Billie Jean Jones, was also the widow of Hank Williams, the country star who died in 1953 -- also in a car (from a heart attack).
Extra credit: Horton was born in California to a family of Texas migrant workers and farmers; he was raised mostly in Texas... Sources differ on his birthday, with a few listing it as 3 April... Horton's hit "North to Alaska" came from the 1960 movie of the same name, starring John Wayne and Ernie Kovacs... His love for fishing earned him the nickname "The Singing Fisherman"... George Jones's version of "I'm a One-Woman Man" was a hit in 1989.
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