November 5

Remembering the Creepy Death of Johnny Horton 59 Years Ago

Fans of the late honky-tonk man Johnny Horton may be well familiar with his songs during his golden days and even long after he passed away. But perhaps none, if not too few, of them knew that the singer had foreseen many times that his time is short. Claiming that he’s a Spiritualist, Horton had intuited his death would be somewhat eerie. That premonition actually darkened Johnny Horton’s years at the same time his career began to shine. Because of this, he frequently promised his loved ones that he would contact them from the grave.

Johnny Horton’s Creepy Death

Early on, with the worldly spirits’ influence, Horton had predicted the manner of his death. A drunken man would be responsible for his imminent demise. On November 5, 1960, Horton’s presentiment came true. Prior to this, he canceled an appearance at the premiere of the movie North to Alaska.

Furthermore, he’s supposed to have a gig at the Skyline Club and tried to get out of it. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to do so and thus, stayed in his dressing room at the Skyline. Otherwise, he’d be killed by a drunk if he stayed at the bar.

Soon after the gig was over, he kissed his wife Billie Jean good-bye. Jean was Hank Williams’ widow whom Horton married a year after Williams’ death in 1952. Horton gave his goodbye kiss to Jean in the same place on the same cheek where Hank had kissed her after his last gig at the Skyline.

Horton, together with his bass player Tillman Franks and manager Tommy Tomlinson, headed to Shreveport, Louisiana. From the beginning, Franks noted that Horton was driving too fast (though that wasn’t new about him as he always drove fast). Suddenly, a pick-up truck smashed head-on into Horton’s car. Horton’s companions were severely injured, and he was still alive when the ambulance came. He died, however, on their way to the hospital.

James Evan Davis, the driver of a pick-up truck, was drunk at the time of the accident and later charged with intoxication manslaughter.

His Musical Legacy

Johnny Horton made his name as a honky-tonk singer. His strong musical influence was rockabilly. However, his 1959 hit “Battle of New Orleans” cemented his reputation as a recording artist. The single topped both the country and pop music charts. Following the success of this hit was a series of “saga” songs namely, “North to Alaska,” “Sink the Bismarck,” and “Johnny Reb.”

In honor of Johnny Horton’s 58th death anniversary, let’s listen again to his first major hit “Battle of New Orleans” below.


Battle of New Orleans, Death Anniversary, Johnny Horton

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