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Johnny Horton’s Road to Fame and His Song “The Battle of New Orleans”


Johnny Horton has been one of the best rockabilly and country artists during the mid-’50s to early ’60s. His career ended not because his fame died out, but it was because of a horrible accident. Despite living a short career, he has influenced a lot of country artists. His music turned lives and inspired a lot of people. Today, as we celebrate his birthday, we’ll take a look at how Horton made his breakthrough in the world of music.

Johnny Horton Birthday The Battle of the New Orleans
Photo Credit: Johnny Horton/ Official Facebook Page

Johnny Horton’s Childhood

Horton was born on April 30, 1925, at Los Angeles, California. He often traveled with his family because of his parents’ jobs. Despite being busy traveling, his mother taught Horton how to play the guitar at the age of 11. He was not yet into music and writing songs at that time. Horton went to college but he didn’t finish it. He worked at a mail room to provide for himself. After a while, Horton moved to Alaska and there, he began writing songs. He discovered his passion for music which led him to pursue a career in the music industry.

The Start of His Career

Horton didn’t start his solo career immediately. Instead, he had a band named The Singing Fisherman and the Rowley Trio. They often tour and appear on the Louisiana Hayride show. When he left his band, Horton didn’t immediately dive into a solo career. Instead, he worked in a tackle shop; this was because he was influenced by his love of fishing. His solo career only began in the mid-50s when he recorded the song “Honky Tonk Man,” a single where he incorporated the rockabilly style of music. Horton earned his first top ten on the country chart with the song. After “Honky Tonk Man” he began releasing songs that finally charted.

First No. 1 on the Chart

His first number one song on the chart was achieved in 1959. His self-penned song “When It’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s Forty Below)” was the beginning of a flourishing career. The song was set in Fairbanks, Alaska where the narrator knew he was going to die because he was caught dancing with someone’s wife-to-be.

“The Battle of New Orleans”

Of all the songs he scored on the chart, “The Battle Of New Orleans” was his biggest break. He scored number one on both the country and the pop chart, making this the song often associated with him. “The Battle Of New Orleans” was penned by Jimmy Driftwood in 1959. The song tells the story of a battle in which the narrator experienced. However, the song is written in a comical manner, making it easier to take in. Horton won the Grammy Award for Best Country and Western Recording. In addition, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.


He was only starting to make his name as a singer when he was involved in a horrible accident in November 1960. However, even after his death, some of his songs were able to secure spots on the chart.

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