Johnny Horton was born in Los Angeles, California on April 30, 1925, raised in Tyler, Texas, returned to California to work and spent some time in Alaska before winning a talent contest by then-radio announcer Jim Reeves in Longview, Texas.
His rapid rise to stardom began with his arrival at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport in 1951 where many American music icons such as Hank Williams Sr., Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Faron Young, Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells, Jim Reeves, Doug Kershaw, Lefty Frizzell, Tillman Franks and dozens more, began their careers in country music.
In a recording career that spanned only five years, Horton’s first success began with a country top ten hit “Honky-Tonk Man” followed by “I’m A One Woman Man” in 1956. In 1959 he topped the country music Hit Parade with “When It’s Springtime in Alaska” and soon after landed on both the country and pop charts at number one with his Grammy winning multi million world-wide seller “The Battle of New Orleans,” followed by another chart topper, “Sink The Bismarck”.
All was not well though as Johnny kept having premonitions of his death. He’d started telling friends and family that he would soon die at the hands of a drunk driver. On November 5, 1960, as his “North To Alaska” was headed to the top of the Hit Parade, Johnny Horton died while heading home to Shreveport following an appearance in Austin, Texas. His Cadillac was hit by a truck driven by an intoxicated teenager. Johnny Horton was just 35 years of age.
In 2009, Johnny Horton was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.