Supplement to this page, posted October 15, 2004
While Johnny Horton was still gathering band musicians (late 52 and early 53) he brought   the Rowley trio together to form his "Roadrunners" band. A few days earlier, I had met and unexpectedly played behind him at a Texarkana Municipal Auditorium (Hayride artist show). We "clicked" so well together, that the instant we were off stage, Johnny hired me (Jimmy Evans) as his steel guitarist for the Hayride broadcast, as well as whatever road shows I could make and still keep my Civil Service Day job. A few days later we both myself and the Rowleys showed up with him and others at the studios of Texarkana's KOSY, for a live preview of a string of area shows starting that nignt. The Rowleys informed me that their band already had a steel player. As I apologized and was about to move my guitar back Johnny stepped up, and objected "No! I have personally hired you.". I played that preview with him as well as other shows including the "Hayride" broadcast on through most of 1953. a few tour-shows I couldn't make were filled in by steel players there with other groups, mainly my friend Bryan Ritter with the "Rhythm Harmoneers." He even covered for me on Johnny's recording session of "You, You, You" in May of 53. In the Hayride cast photo taken during this time, I am seen 5th from the left in the loud plaid shirt and Bryan is seen just right of center between Don Davis and Billy Walker. Some other "Roadrunner"  photos show the wrong name under my pictures. (Dido Rowley has tried to correct this mis-identification in some publications, and others apparently don't yet know). I loaned Joey Kent my scrapbook to verify this error during his "One More Ride", where I played the Friday Night show. Feel free to contact me at 903 838-6098  (or Dido herself 713 880-4026) for more info. Johnny later told me that after I left the band, he virtually quit using steel, and went to vocal backup (The Gays & 4-B's). I have only been aware of these errors for a few months. Please let me know if a correction is feasable at this late date, at least in your publications. Thanks, Jimmy Evans, jkehere@aol.com.



Editor's Update, posted July 6, 2000

Nashville Skyline: The Unfinished Legacy of Johnny Horton

Short but vibrant musical career showcased in new Legacy reissue. Country Editor Chet Flippo: [Nashville Skyline is an opinion column by sonicnet.com Country Editor Chet Flippo).]

Country Editor Chet Flippo writes - The historian in me is gladdened by the current package of reissued classic albums by Columbia Legacy. Country music these days is in such a rush to find the next superstar Shania Twain or Garth Brooks or Faith Hill or *N Bred that sometimes the music's legacy is forgotten and overlooked. Country comedian Tim Wilson's recent remark in these pages that Led Zeppelin is treated better than Gene Watson is right on the mark.

Columbia Legacy's meticulous reissues of landmark works by Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, the Carter Family, George Jones and Johnny Horton are valuable additions to the canon of country music. Nelson's Red Headed Stranger is headed for the designation of best country music album ever recorded, Cash's At San Quentin is finally presented in its entirety, a Carter Family primer is issued, and George Jones' I Am What I Am contains his best vocal work. And The Spectacular Johnny Horton provides a closer look at a lesser-known but brilliant and unfinished musical career. The exuberant Horton was only 31 when a drunken driver killed him in 1960 following a concert in Austin, Texas. Horton had had a premonition of his death and considered canceling that concert date, but went ahead with it. His wife was widowed for the second time by a country star: Billie Jean Jones Williams Horton's previous husband Hank Williams died in 1953 at the age of 29. She married Horton later that year.

Lasting Contributions. - Horton's recording career spanned only five years but remains a rich and varied musical legacy that has influenced singers ranging from George Jones to Dwight Yoakam to BR5-49 - who recorded his "Cherokee Boogie." Oddly, Horton had no one identifiable musical style, although he is most often identified with the saga songs that came late in his career and proved his biggest successes. "North to Alaska," from the John Wayne movie of the same name, was a #1 country hit the week after he died, and he enjoyed success with such others as "Sink the Bismarck," "When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)," and "Johnny Reb." His most famous, "The Battle of New Orleans," was a #1 country and pop hit in 1959.

Interestingly, Horton recorded a second version of "Battle of New Orleans," in which the song was rewritten so that the British won the battle. This oddity was intended for British audiences, after the BBC banned the original song. It's one of the bonus tracks on this album. Another bonus is the inclusion of never-before-published snapshots of Horton on a fishing trip with Johnny Cash.

The album's new liner notes (written by sonicnet.com reviews editor Billy Altman), tell that Horton was working as a fisherman in Alaska when he won a country music talent contest. He moved to Southern California and was billed as "The Singing Fisherman." Later moving to the Louisiana Hayride barn dance show in Shreveport, La., he was tutored by Hank Williams, who had gone back to the Hayride after being fired from the Grand Ole Opry.

Changing Styles - Early in his career, Horton's musical style leaned toward traditional country ballads that were uniformly commercial flops. It wasn't until he left Mercury Records for Columbia that hits came, first with "Honky Tonk Man" in 1956. His rockabilly and honky-tonk styles gave way to the saga songs in 1959, with "When It's Springtime in Alaska." Along the way, he recorded such stylistic departures as the mournful Hank Williams hit "Lost Highway" and the emotional ballad "All for the Love of a Girl."

Now, you have to ask: How many country music careers have not enjoyed this kind of careful stewardship? The answer: Most of them. Where's a good Johnny Rodriguez retrospective? Or one devoted to Dolly Parton? Or Minnie Pearl? Leon Payne? Waylon Jennings? Roger Miller? Hank Penny? The Coon Creek Girls?

If it weren't for reissues like these from such labels as Columbia Legacy, Razor & Tie, Buddha, Bear Family and others, there would be many more holes in country music's history. Incidentally, Bear Family, the German record label specializing in reissues, observes its 25th birthday this month.






JOHNNY HORTON - HONKY TONK MAN

by Shaun Mather"

There are very few artists who are held in equally high esteem by both the rockabilly and country fraternity. Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty and Bob Luman spring to mind, as does the Singing Fisherman, Johnny Horton who cut some classic rockabilly for a few years before a change of direction to country based saga songs.

Although he made his name singing of historic battles, he could have been excused for singing trucking songs as his formative years were spent constantly on the road. His parents John "Lolly" Horton Snr. and Ella Claudia Robinson were married in 1912 and spent their first years of wedlock near Tyler, Texas. After having three children they moved to San Diego and then to east Los Angeles. It was here on April 30th 1925 that John LaGale Horton was born. The next few years were spent crossing back and forth between east Texas and southern California, once as many as four times in a year. They tried a variety of jobs, from picking fruit and cotton, to John Snr. even spending time as deputy sheriff in Blythe, California and Yuma, Arizona. The early thirties provided their most stable period, based around the Tyler area. By 1941 all his siblings had moved away from home, leaving Johnny alone with his now feuding parents. Claudia and Johnny left for California but returned shortly after.

After graduating in 1944, he went to Lon Morris Junior College in Jacksonville, Texas on a basketball scholarship. Putting in to practise what he'd learnt from his parents he moved on, first to Kilgore College then to Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Whether he wanted to or not, Johnny's shoes marched him back to California where he found work in the mail room of the Selznick Studio. It was here that he met his future wife, secretary Donna Cook.

Johnny and elder brother Frank, decided to study geology at Seattle in 1948 but both dropped out after a couple of weeks. Next stop was Florida, then back to California before Johnny took off to Alaska to find gold. He did find it in a way, as it was here that he took up songwriting, only for his own amusement at this stage. He joined Frank again in Seattle, headed south to Los Angeles, then after Frank married, Johnny took off again, seeing a familiar sign, "Welcome To Texas". Following much prompting from his sister Marie, he entered a talent contest in Longview, sponsored by radio KGRI of Henderson. Hosted by station dee-jay and future star Jim Reeves, Johnny took first prize - an ashtray on a pedestal. Thankfully, there would be bigger rewards to come! Encouraged by the contest, Johnny did what he knew best. He left. Obviously the car headed back to California and once settled he bought some western clothes and starting entering talent contests.

Horton came to the attention of entrepreneur Fabor Robinson, whose first job as manager was to land him a spot on Cliffie Stone's Hometown Jubilee on KXLA-TV in Pasadena. During his early guest spots he worked with the likes of Merle Travis and Tennessee Ernie Ford. The station then gave him a regular half hour Saturday night spot billed as the Singing Fisherman where he sang and showed off his casting skills with a fishing rod. Around this time he also hosted Hacienda Party Time on KLAC-TV in Los Angeles. During 1950 he is rumoured to have appeared in two movies with Gary Cooper, The Story Of Will Rogers and Distant Drums.

A mixture of Horton's TV appearances and Robinson's contacts landed him a couple of singles on the small Cormac label. The first coupled Plaid And Calico with Done Rovin' and the second Coal Smoke, Valve Oil And Steam and Birds And Butterflies. The label then folded and Robinson acquired the masters and started his own Abbott Records. By mid '52, ten Horton singles had been issued but none hinted at cracking the country charts. They were, for the main part, run of the mill, western style songs lacking any sparkle but providing a vital role in developing his vocal styling.

Following marriage to Donna and a honeymoon in Palm Springs, he moved back east to be near the Louisiana Hayride where he was now scheduled to appear on a regular basis. Another move was also completed when Robison persuaded Mercury Records A&R man Walter Kilpatrick to land the fisherman. Things at the new label started promisingly with First Train Headed South b/w (I Wished For An Angel) The Devil Sent Me You (Mercury 6412), but despite good reviews in the trade papers and high profile gigs on the Hayride, nothing happened.

In September '52, he acquired a full-time band in the Rowley Trio from Nederland, Texas. Featuring Jerry Rowley on fiddle, his wife Evelyn on piano and sister Vera (Dido) on bass or guitar, they were working at KFDM in Beaumont following a spell backing Lefty Frizzle. Whilst playing in Beaumont, Horton and Robison heard the Trio and were sufficiently impressed to offer them a job touring. They started off driving Johnny to their engagements, but he kept stopping to fish and hunt, so they soon bought him a Pontiac and met him at the venues! The new foursome recruited steeler Bob Stegall but still called themselves "The Singing Fisherman and the Rowley Trio", before changing it to "Johnny Horton and the Roadrunners".

The Hayride had been running for over four years when Johnny joined the family, and in this time had helped/launched/resurrected many careers including Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Webb Pierce and Bob Luman. It was to prove a vital springboard for Horton who was by now a Shreveport resident. His marriage became a victim of the increasing touring and Donna moved back to Los Angeles, with Johnny happy for a reconciliation but unwilling to go back to the coast. In August the Hayride welcomed back wild child Hank Williams, only twenty-eight but banished from Nashville's Grand Ole Opry for his hopeless drunkenness and unreliability. On Sunday October 19th, Hank twice married local policeman's daughter Billy Jean Jones to paying audiences at New Orleans' Municipal Auditorium. Johnny frequently talked with the couple backstage at the Hayride and at one such meeting Hank allegedly told Billie Jean that one day she would marry Johnny Horton.

By New Years Eve Hank was no more, he died in the back seat of a powder blue Cadillac heading for a show in Canton, Ohio. Horton and the Rowleys were driving home from a gig when they heard the news on the radio. They were in Milano, Texas and it was to be here following a show at Austin's Skyline Club (same venue as Hank's last ever show) that Johnny Horton was to be killed. Spooky!



By the summer of '53, Johnny and Billie Jean were an item and they tied the knot on 26th September. They lived off Johnny's gig money, his newly established writers-contract with American Music of Los Angeles and the settlement Billie Jean had eked out of the Williams estate. Horton and Robison had by now parted company, following a row which revolved in part around Horton's frustration at the amount of energies Robison was spending on new boy Jim Reeves. Stegall had left, to be replaced by Dick and Betty Lou Spears, but before long the Rowleys left. He starting using pick-up bands together with Billie Jean's brothers Alton and Sonny Jones. The career had stalled and he became so disillusioned that he got a regular job working in a fishing tackle shop, playing only on the weekend at the Hayride. Even this ceased in November '54, with Johnny going out of the business all together. His last session for Mercury on 23rd September didn't even generate a single and the two year hiatus had been a strange period with songs ranging from answer songs like Back To My Back Street, to Train With A Rhumba Beat. The best seller was All For The Love Of A Girl (Mercury 70227) which sold around 35-45,000 copies.

It was at this time that country music was starting to struggle for breath, under the stranglehold of the new rockin' sounds which were starting to infiltrate the scene. Led by a young truck driver from Memphis, Elvis Presley, rockabilly was becoming more common both on record and on country bills, with the Hayride one of the most forward looking in this respect. It was here that Horton first saw Elvis, and apparently he was immediately taken by the singer and the style.

A couple of months passed, a few more hairs fell from his balding head and more than a few dollars passed over shop counters. Sick of kicking his heels, Johnny Horton turned to Hayride stalwart Tillman Franks for some inspiration. Five years older than Horton, Franks had played bass for Webb Pierce, managed the Carlisle's and Jimmy and Johnny, worked as a booking agent, a car salesman in Houston and served in the police force. He too was between jobs when Horton appeared, "I hadn't worked in four or five weeks when Johnny Horton come to the door. He was broke too. He and Billie Jean had spent the money they got after Hank died, and she'd told him to get his ass out and make some more. He said "If I can get Tillman Franks to manage me, I'll get to number one". He came to my house on Summer Street, and I told him that I just didn't like the way he sang. He said, "No problem. I'll sing any way you want me to". And he was serious!".

They'd already met in Mississippi, when Horton had toured with the Carlisle's. By mid '55 Franks had taken over the management, and following the end of the Mercury contract, his first job was to line up a new label. After contacting Webb Pierce, who in turn talked to Jim Denny at Cedarwood and Troy Martin at Golden West Melodies, a one year contract with Columbia was forthcoming. Cedarwood and Golden West Melodies would both get publishing on two songs per session as part of the deal. With no advance and a session due in Nashville, the skint duo had to loan David Houston's dad's car for the journey, with the promise that they'd try to get Houston a contract while they were there.



On the way to the session, Horton and Franks stopped off in Memphis at Elvis' house, leaving with ten dollars (they were too broke to get gas) and the loan of Bill Black on slap bass. Tillman Franks had reservations about his own playing and he wanted the sound to be special, his boy had been in many a studio, and now was the time to deliver. On January 11th 1956, Johnny Horton entered the Bradley Barn Studio with Bill Black and two of Nashville's top pickers, Grady Martin and producer Owen Bradley's brother, Harold. With his career in need of a kick start, this session used jump leads! The first song tackled was the mid tempo rockabilly of I'm A One Woman Man, penned by Horton and Franks. Suddenly there was an urgency to the vocals, no doubt inspired by he picking of Martin. Howard Crockett (Hausey) had played Honky Tonk Man to Horton and Franks and after a quick rewriting of the tune, they split the credits 3 ways. It was the second song cut that day and it was as fine a vocal performance that he ever gave, the whole thing driven along by more trademark Grady Martin picking.

Don Law and Franks sat in the control room, knowing they were witnessing the transformation of a one time hillbilly singer. By midnight they'd wrapped up two more uptempo corkers in I'm Ready If You're Willing and I Got A Hole In My Pirogue.

Horton and Franks were pushing for Honky Tonk Man to be the lead-off single but strangely Don Law didn't believe in the song, and it was only after the intervention of Jim Denny that Law relented and issued it with I'm Ready If You're Willing on the flip side. Live shows were arranged to push the single with the band featuring Franks on bass and a teenager from Minden, Louisiana, Tommy Tomlinson on guitar.

The single was reviewed in the March 10th issue of Billboard, who said of Honky Tonk Man, "The wine women and song attractions exert a powerful hold on the singer, he admits. The funky sound and pounding beat in the backing suggest the kind of atmosphere he describes. A very good jukebox record." Of the b-side it read "Horton sings out this cheerful material with amiable personality. This ever more popular stylist ought to expand his circle of fans with this one." Indeed he did, and by May the record had climbed to the number 9 spot in the C&W Jockey chart, as well as number 14 in the Best Seller chart.

Things were still tight financially for a while and Johnny decided to set up a fake ticket agency whereby he phoned the citizens of Alexandria, Louisiana selling tickets under the name Earl Baker, with Billie Jean delivering them the next day. Franks thought that Billie Jean was pocketing some of the money so he and Johnny checked her out. Franks was wrong, she was accounting for every penny, so when he apologised, she said "Goddamn, Tillman, if I wanted money, I'd go out and whore it". Well, it's better than starving.

On a more kosher level, Franks took over the Hayride bookings, setting up packages around the south. Johnny was tied to a contract for his Monday night appearances on television station KLTV in Tyler, Texas, which restricted how far afield he could tour. He needed to get out of it, so on one of the shows, when it was time to read a commercial for Hol-Sum Bread, he announced "Friends, we are proud to be here, and proud to be sponsored by Hol-Sum Bread. Tillman Franks my manager eats Hol-Sum Bread, and I eat it too. What I like about Hol-Sum Bread is that it's never touched by hand. That's right, they mix it with their feet". After the show, the station owner called him and said she'd be happier if he left the station. Now he was free to travel, and he started earning up to $500 a night.

On May 23rd they headed back to Music City for a second session. Grady Martin again led the proceedings with Ray Edenton replacing Harold Bradley and Floyd Lightnin' Chance ably standing in on double bass. They kicked off at seven p.m. with the shuffling authority of Take Me Like I Am before moving onto the Horton-Hausey composition Sugar-Coated Baby. It's one of those mid-tempo tracks that Horton was to excel at, playful vocals and Martin's bass string guitaring driving it along. Claude King's I Don't Like I Did was another such song, but even better. The fourth cut was Autry Inman's salute to the opposite sex, Hooray For That Little Difference. Again it was another shuffler which gave the session four nice songs but nothing to grab you like the previous visit had.

This was emphasised when the follow up single (Columbia 21538) had I Don't Like I Did on the b-side but the header was I'm A One Woman Man from the January session. Billboard enthused that One Woman.. was a "Smart and polished job" adding that Horton was ".singing with a light, airy touch. Guitar work is just as convincing, adding up to listenable, commercial stuff".

By August Columbia and Franks were getting the sniff of big things and on 4th, they ran an advert in Billboard claiming their "Sensational New Artist". Goes on a spree with his newest two-sided hit". The accompanying photo did nothing for the image of a rocker, showing him looking middle aged with a cowboy hat to hide his ever receding hair. The push continued with a higher profile tour of west Texas starting in El Paso with Johnny Cash, Faron Young and Roy Orbison. Booked by the infamous Bob Neal Stars Inc. of Memphis, the package moved up to Ontario, Canada for six dates commencing on the 18th, culminating in Detroit.

Billboard's first issue in September noted that "Somewhat like his last hit - Honky Tonk Man - this release (I'm A One Woman Man) started off rather quietly, but has gradually become a powerful chart contender. This week it made an appearance on the Houston territorial chart and was selling well in Nashville, Dallas, Durham and Birmingham". Within a week or so he was rewarded with a second country hit, this time peaking at #7 on the Jockey chart and #9 on both the Best Seller and Jukebox charts.

On Sunday October 14th, following shows throughout Florida, Horton played in Memphis again for Bob Neal, this time with Johnny Cash, Faron Young, Sonny James, Roy Orbison and the Teen-Kings and Charlene Arthur. They continued around Tennessee until the 23rd, before moving on to New Mexico and west Texas.

It must have been a confident crowd that arrived at Bradley's Barn on November 12th. Only two songs were cut, the unissued Over Loving You and the exquisite rockabilly of I'm Coming Home. From the pens of Horton and Franks, the beat was meatier than anything he'd previously cut and with Bill Black back on bass duties and Grady Martin again plucking brilliant, the exuberance of Horton's vocals summed up the songs excitement.

Not surprisingly I'm Coming Home was released with great anticipation with I Got A Hole In My Pirogue on the flip (Columbia 40813). Released as the same time as the Johnny Burnette Trio's Lonesome Train (Coral 61758) and Rosco Gordon's Cheese And Crackers (Sun 257), Billboard predicted that "the singer, has material in I'm Coming Home that could give him his biggest record to date. He is cast in a down home blues item here that gets in the blood after about eight bars. Horton's vocal against this twangy backing makes a terrific impression. "Pirogue" is a rockabilly type novelty of great appeal. It's hard to see how this can miss becoming a gold mine". On 9th February, Billboard noted that "not only Southern markets are doing good business with this, but Northern cities report that both country and pop customers are going for this in a big way. It was again a hit in the country charts (#11 Jockey, #15 Best Seller) but it somehow failed to click in the pop charts. What did the kids want for their pocket money! The kids in Cincinnati could have spent their money seeing Horton, Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins in a mouth-watering show at the Music Hall on February 8th.

April 11th 1957 saw them return to Nashville for another session, this time with Tommy Tomlinson joining the fun and Lightnin' Chance replacing Bill Black. She's Know's Why is a neat mid tempo affair which composer Claude King reckons was to have been cut by Hank Williams had he lived. Regardless, he wouldn't have bettered Horton's stab at it. The second song from the session, Honky Tonk Mind, had been given to Horton by it's writer, Tommy Blake who cut the song for RCA himself, two days later. Blake them told Horton that he couldn't release the song so Franks and Don Law put Lee Emerson's name down as composer and called it The Woman I Need. Blake then threatened to kill Horton and Franks and sued. In the mean time, Columbia released the song leaving RCA to keep Blake's in the can. Horton's version is a joy with playful singing and the obligatory guitar fills and two fine solos from Martin. When you listen to these solo's from Martin, you are left in no doubt that it's him on the Johnny Burnette and Rock'n'Roll Trio stuff. Tell My Baby I Love Her was typical shuffling rockabilly as was the final song from the session, Lee Emerson's Goodbye Lonesome, Hello Baby Doll, surely one of the fifties' finest unissued tracks. By this stage, Horton was singing with complete authority, matched only by Martin's classy picking.

With She Knows Why as it's b-side, Honky Tonk Mind (The Woman I Need) was released in April (Columbia 40919) with Billboard again impressed. "Crisp blues by a talented chanter. Snappy guitar swings in a down home sound. A favourable performance which can attract action from both boxes and jocks." Following the dispute with RCA and Tommy Blake the record failed to generate too much interest with the public, spending only one week in the country charts (#9, Jukebox).

The usual high standard was maintained the next time they recorded at Nashville on July 9th, including an unusual calypso in Lover's Rock. Let's Take The Long Way Home and I'll Do It Everytime were chosen from the session for the next single, Columbia 40986. Despite Billboards prediction that this single could also click, it didn't, but there was no need to panic yet. Columbia 41043 coupled Lover's Rock with You're My Baby and Billboard was again optimistic, "Offbeat country job has a rhumba beat with an interesting minor keyed guitar backing. Apparently a lot goes on at Lover's Rock and some of the juves will like the message". Strike two. The charts weren't dented.

When they next entered the studio on 13th December, the band included Tomlinson on guitar, Jesse Sparks on bass and Allen Harris on piano. Grady Martin was present and played guitar and electric bass. The first song, Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor, was an old hillbilly tune co-written by West Coast fiddler Tex Atchison who had handed the song to Jess Willard who had it out on Capitol in '51. Horton's version is far from hillbilly, driven by biting electric bass work from Martin, it's prime time rockabilly and Harris' piano pounding helps make this Horton's rockinest performance. Second up was The Wild One, a moody western rocker written by Merle Kilgore and Tillman Franks, the sort of thing Duane Eddy may have done if he sang. The slower pop of Evertime I'm Kissing You finished off the proceedings of what was one of his most varied sessions to date.

With The Wild One for company, Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor (Columbia 41110) was released in early February '58. There must have been more than a little excitement in the camp and Billboard thought it had a chance calling it one to watch. Despite Franks' claims that it went to number one in Billings, Montana, it amazingly became three failures in a row.

Things started to look grim and financially, Horton and Billie Jean were back in a jam. He reverted to playing pinball machines for money - Kilgore remembers him winning up to $200 a day from pinball. He also remembered that Horton "had a brand new Cadillac and I had an old Buick. Around midnight one night he woke me up and said I should meet him at a truckstop. I didn't ask any questions and went to meet him. He said, "Have you got money to change these wheels?" I said, "Yeah", so he told the man to take the wheels off the Cadillac and put them on my Buick, and put the Buick wheels on the Cadillac. My tyres were wore down to nothing, so I asked him what he was doing. He said, "They're coming to repossess the Cadillac in the morning".

He became so desperate for some dollars that on 27th January 1958 he went into the studios of KWKH in Shreveport to record ten tracks for SESAC the performing rights society. It was a sign of the state his career had quickly slipped into as there was no chance of sales, the records acted only as adverts f or his live shows via their airplay. With Tomlinson, Franks and piano player Sonny Harville the songs ranged from the calypso of Hot In The Sugarcane Field to the countrypoliton of Wise To The Ways Of A Woman. The whole thing has a poppy sound due to the use of vocal group the Four B's. The highlight of the session was Out In New Mexico, a great Johnny Cash style story song not a million miles from the type which would soon take him to the top of the charts world-wide.

When he next ventured into the studio at the beginning of June, it was again at Bradley's Barn, with Martin, Chance and Harman joined by the new young guitar whiz, Reggie Young who'd just arrived from Memphis. The session was a real positive affair with all four tracks having commercial potential. Counterfeit Love and Mister Moonlight have some lovely guitar moments, confident vocals and backing vocals which add rather than subtract (not always the case). One case being All Grown Up, the guitar's great, Johnny's great, Buddy Harman is great, the backing singers grate. Got The Bull By The Horns is a cracking chugger, Martin and Young combine to power the song along and the rhythm section of Harman and Chance are a sheer joy. In a recent interview for Now Dig This magazine, Chance commented that Johnny Horton "was a nice guy - pure country with fizz". Well, this was the fizz bit, but unbelievably it was overlooked for single release. Instead Columbia issued All Grown Up with Counterfeit Love (Columbia 41210). This time Billboard's prediction that this "tune with solid teen-appeal" was a "Good dual market disk" proved spot on as by the end of September it had risen to the number 8 spot in the country charts. It was his highest position to date but was chicken feed to what was soon to come.

The immediate financial situation didn't alter and before the end of '58, Horton and Franks got involved in a doomed insurance scheme. They sold $4,000 of stock to a resident of Leesville, Louisiana, but were let down by a company representative and had to repay the $4,000. Tillman sold his house for $2,000 and the disgruntled man from Leesville, went on tour with Horton to Canada where he preceded to pick up the gate receipts until the full amount was recovered.

Around this time, country music was showing an increasing liking for the folk type story songs and Johnny Horton was to be right at the forefront. To alleviate the boredom on long road trips, he and Franks had frequently had songwriting competitions, whereby they would give one another song titles around which the other had to write a song. To judge who's was best, they would play them on stage and see which drew the biggest response from the audience. Can't see the likes of Dire Straits doing this! One title that Franks had landed on Johnny was the unlikely When It's Springtime In Alaska (It's Forty Below). Not only had he come up with a song, it had also gone down really well at their live shows. When they next went into the studio on 10th November, they decided to have a crack at it. Grady Martin suggested a change of pace and also the use of Harold Bradley's banjo. This was a master-stroke, now it's hard to imagine the song without the banjo. Coupled with story-line lyrics, backing vocals and a strong performance from Horton, it had real commercial potential. The only other track cut was Hausey's pop ballad, Whispering Pines, complete with pleading vocals.

Both songs made up Columbia 41308 when released in December. Billboard wrote that "These are Horton's best sides recently. Whispering Pines is a pretty country weeper-ballad that is chanted in real style. When It's Springtime In Alaska is another tribute to the 49th State. Either can step out". It did indeed step out, marching all the way to the top of the country charts. It stayed on the charts for twenty-three weeks and when it hit number one it replaced another Columbia storysong, Johnny Cash's Don't Take Your Guns To Town. After only one week, Horton was knocked off top spot by George Jones who was sippin' his White Lightnin'. The tea-totaller was surrounded by the juicehead and the junkie, but it was good company and he was starting to look like he belonged in it. Tillman Franks described a typical live show to Colin Escott : "We had an arrangement where Johnny would finish a song, and I'd tell him the next one to sing. We'd go from, say, Rock Island Line to Frankie And Johnny and onto Cherokee Boogie, then a slow one like You Win Again, then a beat number. Tommy would do Wildwood Flower, or another instrumental like Honky Tonk. No-one thought they'd been short-changed with just three pieces. Then, after the show, we might have to drive, three, four hundred miles or more to the next date".

With a follow up needed, and nothing in the vaults suitable to capitalise on the folk style he'd just scored with, luck came their way via an Arkansas history teacher, Jimmie Driftwood. In October '57 Driftwood had recorded an album called Newly Discovered American Folk Songs, which featured Battle Of New Orleans, his four minute history lesson based on the old ballad, The Eighth Of January (not a song about Elvis' birth!). The album had come out on RCA through the help of Porter Wagoner and Don Warden, who had at the same time secured the publishing for Warden Music. Warden pitched the song to Horton and Franks. Horton was impressed, but Franks wasn't so inclined. After hearing the song on Ralph Emery's late night WSM show, and a dream! He called Horton, expressing his change of heart.

They invited Driftwood to Shreveport, where, following an appearance on the Hayride on 24th January, he and Horton spent a few days together, shortening the song to a more radio friendly length. By now both Horton and Franks were convinced that they had a major hit on their hands.

On 27th they went to Nashville to cut it. With Don Law missing for the first time since Horton had joined Columbia, Grady Martin took charge. Martin's role in this change of fortune should not be overlooked. It was his idea to add the banjo to Springtime to give it the required frontier feel. This time he suggested the marching drum beat to give it the military feel. It's probably irrelevant, but the second song cut was the pleasant ballad, All For The Love Of A Girl.

Soon after the session, they played a club in San Antonio with Carl Belew and Country Johnny Mathis. Halfway through Battle Of New Orleans, the crowd stopped dancing and surrounded the stage, just listening, enthralled. Franks told Escott that when it was finished, he leaned over to Horton and said "Johnny, that's the one we've been looking for".

In mid-April, Columbia put it out (Columbia 41339) with Billboard predicting that it "should break into the pop market with these sides". It followed Springtime to the top of the country charts, where it stayed for ten weeks. In all it spent half the year on the chart. No one was surprised when it went into the pop charts, but all expectations were exceeded when it reached number one, where it remained for six weeks.

On 9th May, he performed the song on ABC TV's, The Dick Clark Show along with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, Jesse Belvin, the Skyliners and Phil Davies' hero, Paul Anka. More nation-wide exposure followed with a June 7th appearance on the Ed Sullivan where he performed in a Davy Crockett outfit.

With Columbia keen to get an album in the shops, two sessions were arranged for mid May during which special British and Canadian versions of Battle Of New Orleans were cut. The British version (Philips PB 932) climbed to number sixteen, staying on the charts for four weeks, despite being outsold by Lonnie Donegan, whose version (Pye 7N 15206) peaked at number two.

The other songs from the sessions showed a new versatility, and all saw a release in one form or another. Lost Highway was a beautifully sung, slow version of the Leon Payne classic. Sam Magee was another folk type song, Cherokee Boogie harked back to some of his great rockabilly stuff, giving Martin and Harman a chance to shine again, as did their take on Hank Snow's Golden Rocket. Joe's Been A-Gittin' There was a banjo lead story song, a fine example of how confident Johnny Horton's singing had now become. He returned to The First Train Headed South, a brilliant rocker with great guitar and some fabulous drumming again from Harman. A less raunchy, more restrained version of Got The Bull By The Horns was also cut.

With the Columbia contract expiring in June, Don Law eagerly agreed a new improved two-year deal which now gave Horton a five percent royalty rate. Franks left his post at the Hayride and they also cut back on their appearances there to once a month.

The first night in July saw them back at Bradley's Barn where they worked up a follow up, Johnny Reb. Penned by Merle Kilgore, it was another saga song, even having the marching drum beat. Horton's own, Words was a nice ballad and Driftwood's, Sal's Got A Sugarlip was a mid tempo novelty item with a semi Slow Diddley beat, which he recut on the 6th. Johnny Reb and the later take of Sal were issued before the end of the month. In a glorious publicity stunt, Horton visited the last survivor from the Civil War, 116 year old General Walter Williams. His daughter cranked up his hearing aid too high and as soon as Horton started singing, Williams grabbed for his ears, a grimes across his face. Horton thought the old timer didn't like his song, but once the problem had been sorted out, they tried again. This time the veteran tapped his foot and was moved to tears. Slightly disappointedly, Johnny Reb only reached fifty-four on the pop charts but rose to number nine on the country charts. Sal managed to crack the country chart as well, peaking at number nineteen.



On September 29th the usual gang, together with pianist Floyd Cramer cut an exotic version of I'm Ready If You're Willing, which despite some fluent guitar licks wasn't as good as his '56 version. They also recorded Claude King's Take Me Like I Am. Not surprisingly, the couplet (Columbia 41502) failed to register on either chart.

With performance fees now up to about $2,000 a night and with a big advance from Columbia, Horton bought a house on Shreveport's Shreve Island. He also bought into another doomed venture, the Cane River Bait Company in Natchitoches, Louisiana, which went so pear shaped that it nearly crippled him.

The beginning of October saw him cut a Christmas single with the so-so novelty songs, They Shined Up Rudolph's Nose, The Electrified Donkey and The Same Old Story The Crow Told Me. It did nothing.

The year ended with Battle Of New Orleans picking up awards from BMI and NARAS, following it's phenomenal world wide success and sales in excess of two and a half million. It was no surprise therefore when on 7th January 1960, a week after first trying it, they laid down Sink The Bismark, another musical history lesson. A remake of Bill Carlisle's Same Old Story was also cut and was put on t he b-side of Columbia 41568. The single was issued later in the month, hoping to cash in on the Kenneth Moore movie of the same title and theme (the sinking of the German battleship during World War II). Helped by appearances on the Dick Clark Show (April 2nd) and Ed Sullivan Show (May 1st) the song rose to number three in the pop charts and number six in the country charts. Phillips again released it in Britain but it failed to show. It was a great outcome for a song which had started with problems. It had been agreed that Horton would write the theme song for the movie, but his and Franks version was song wrong factually that Fox didn't want to use it and offered to pay them off for $5,000. An offended Franks insisted that Fox use the song in some form, and finally it was played before the movie was shown as a sort of advertisement.

During the second week of March, five productive sessions were held, with enough material for 45 and LP releases. Ole Slew Foot had been penned by Hausey who had given half the credits to Eddie Manney who had cut it as Slewfoot The Bear on Manco (1002). Horton had tried unsuccessfully to cut it six months earlier and returned to it here because both he and Franks were convinced the song could be a hit. Johnny was so convinced it could be big that he and Ferlin Huskey tried to hypnotise Hausey into given them half of it. The earlier take had been done in more of a rock 'n' roll vein but this time it was a Beverley Hillbillies harmonica led good-time romp. The Leon Payne catalogue was again used with Miss Marcy (Billy Boy), a western folk song akin to Marty Robbins' recent output. Tex Atchison's Sleepy-Eyed John was another harmonica/jews harp stomper and was issued to no avail with Miss Marcy (Columbia 41963). The self written The Mansion You Stole was a ballad featuring strings as was Leon Payne's They'll Never Take Her Love From Me. Day two was rounded off with the up-tempo folk song, The Sinking Of The Reuben James.

On the 10th he cut two more Payne songs, the atmospheric homage to Jim Bridger and The Battle Of Bull Run, a Battle Of New Orleans soundalike, even down to the drums. To complete a day of historical remembrances, he laid down Snow-Shoe Thompson and Driftwood's John Paul Jones. The theme continued the next day when over two sessions they remembered Comanche (The Brave Horse), Young Abe Lincoln, O'Leary's Cow and Johnny Freedom. Johnny Freedom was recorded on the insistence of Columbia president Goddard Lieberson to help push the opening of the Freedomland USA Exposition in the Bronx, New York on 19th June 1960. Apparently, Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires helped out on the vocals as Horton was struggling with it. They needn't have bothered as the song was rubbish, sounding like a poor Elvis movie soundtrack. The single and an album of the other recent cuts called Johnny Horton Makes History were issued and Horton appeared at the Freedomland opening, together with other appearances, linked to the launch.

20th Century Fox approached them to record the title song for their new John Wayne epic, North To Alaska. Learning from the Sink The Bismark debacle, assurances were sought and given that the song would be used whatever it sounded like. Mystery surrounds the writing of the song and it could have been written by either, Horton alone, Horton and Franks, Horton and Claude King or Charlie Feathers! They'd tried it out twice in July, but it wasn't until August 9th 1960 that they got the one they wanted. It was to be Johnny's last session. They got $10,000 for the rights to use the song and Franks used this to run trade adverts when the song came out in September. The advert was a great one, it showed John Wayne kicking someone's ass, and the caption read "This'll teach you to swipe my copy of Johnny Horton's latest - North To Alaska". Wayne didn't see the funny side and his attorney threatened to sue!

North To Alaska was a massive hit, topping the country charts for five weeks, and reaching number 4 in the pop charts. It stayed on the British charts for eleven weeks reaching a high of 23.

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. He asked his sister to pray and care for Billie Jean and their girls and he had his mum visit for the week. He cancelled his scheduled attendance at the premiere of North To Alaska and tried to back out of his next gig, a club date at the Skyline in Austin, Texas on November 4th. A big star, which he had now become, should never have been playing such a gig for such little reward ($800), but the common consensus is that he was broke again, and together with Franks' medical bills for his recent hernia operation, any money was welcome.

Tommy Tomlinson flew in from Nashville where he was cutting a duet album with Jerry Kennedy (Tom and Jerry). Johnny used the morning to make arrangements to go duck hunting with Claude King once he'd returned from Austin and he also phoned Johnny Cash for a chat. Cash was stoned and didn't take the call, and has always regretted it. That afternoon, as he went to collect Franks, he kissed Billie Jean goodbye in the same spot Hank had done seven years earlier, and cuddled his two daughters. Against his wife's wishes, Franks got out off his sick bed and off they headed for Austin.

When they got to the Skyline, Horton stayed in his dressing room, convinced that a drunk would kill him if he hung around the bar. After the show, they started the 220 mile journey back to Shreveport. Tomlinson was in the back, observing that Horton was driving too fast - Franks was asleep in the front. About 2am, near Milano, Texas they were crossing a bridge when a truck came at them, hitting both sides of the bridge before plunging into Horton's Cadillac. He had practised avoiding head-on collisions, by driving into verges, but on the narrow bridge he'd had no opportunity. He was still breathing when he was pulled out of the Caddie but died on the way to hospital. The nineteen year old truck driver, James Davis was intoxicated. Johnny Horton had died at the hands of a drunk. It is believed that a sun visor rod had pierced his skull. Franks suffered head injuries and young Tomlinson had multiple leg fractures and nine months later, had to have his left leg amputated. Ironically, Davis was virtually unscathed.

Tillman's preacher brother Billy, held the funeral service on November 8th, with Billie Jean becoming a widow for the second time at the age of 28. Johnny Cash read Chapter 20 from the Book of John having flown in on a chartered plane, still trying to come to terms with his grief and guilt.

Columbia released various singles and a greatest hits album and on October 5th, 1 964, Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Three overdubbed a splendid Rock Island Line and I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Livin' to Horton's demos. Other such sessions were held throughout the sixties for album release. Sleepy-Eyed John hit the country charts in April '61, rising to #9 and a year later Honky Tonk Man was reissued, reaching #11. In February '63 he made his last appearance in the charts (to date!) with All Grown Up peaking at a respectable 26.

Johnny Horton will forever be remembered for his major contribution to both country and rockabilly music. A special mention should also be made to two influential figures in the making of the Johnny Horton story - Tillman Franks and Grady Martin. You can still hear his music in the likes of Marty Stuart and BR5-49 and most European rockabilly bands. He was a real easy going bloke who was happiest when fishing or just messing about and that's perhaps how he should be remembered. Claude King summed him up best when he quoted Horton telling him "Don't ever worry, Ace, you'll get a wrinkle".

Shaun Mather - April 99.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
Colin Escott for the wonderful booklet for the Bear Family boxset, Johnny Horton 1956 - 1960 and Now Dig This magazine.




US POP CHARTS

YEAR -- POS -- WKS -- SONG -- RECORD
1959 - 1 - 18 - The Battle Of New Orleans - Columbia 41339
1960 - 3 - 13 - Sink The Bismark - Columbia 41568
1960 - 3 - 18 - North To Alaska - Columbia 41782


UK POP CHARTS

YEAR -- POS -- WKS -- SONG -- RECORD
1959 - 16 - 4 - The Battle Of New Orleans - Phillips PB 93
1961 - 23 - 11 - North To Alaska - Phillips PB 1062


US COUNTRY CHARTS

YEAR -- POS -- WKS -- SONG -- RECORD
1956 - 9 - 12 - Honky Tonk Man - Columbia 21504
1956 - 7 - 13 - I'm A One Woman Man - Columbia 21538
1957 - 11- 5 - I'm Coming Home - Columbia 40813
1957 - 9 - 1 - The Woman I Need - Columbia 40919
1958 - 8 - 8 - All Grown Up - Columbia 41210
1959 - 1 - 21 - The Battle Of New Orleans - Columbia 41339
1959 - 10 - 9 - Johnny Reb - Columbia 41437
1959 - 19 - 7 - Sal's Got A Sugar Lip - Columbia 41437
1960 - 6 - 15 - Sink The Bismark - Columbia 41568
1960 - 1 - 22 - North To Alaska - Columbia 41782
1962 - 11 - 12 - Honky Tonk Man - Columbia 42302
1963 - 26 - 5 - All Grown Up - Columbia 42653




JOHNNY HORTON DISCOGRAPHY

45's and 78's

Cor - CORMAC, Ab - ABBOTT, Mer - Mercury, Col - Columbia
Early '51, Santa Ana, CA; Producer (prob) Les McWain and/or Fabor Robison
Johnny Horton: vocal; with Bill Thompson's Westernaires; Judd deNaut Trio: chorus (CRM319/332); more details unknown
Plaid And Calico Cor 1193, Ab 102, Ab 135
Plaid And Calico Dot 15966
Coal Smoke, Valve Oil And Steam Cor 1197, Ab 103
Done Rovin' Cor 1193, Ab 102
Done Rovin' Hilltop G21
Birds And Butterflies Cor 1197, Ab 103

c.Mid '51, poss. Hollywood, CA; Producer: Fabor Robison
Johnny Horton: vocal; more details unknown
Candy Jones Ab 100
Happy Millionaire Ab 101
Mean, Mean Son Of A Gun Ab 101
Mean, Mean Son Of A Gun Hilltop G21
Devilish Love Light Ab 100
Shadows On The Old Bayou Dot 15966
Talk Gobbler Talk (Old Gobbler, The Hound Dog) Ab 105

c.Fall '51, poss. Hollywood, CA; Producer: Fabor Robison
Johnny Horton: vocal; more details unknown
In My Home In Shelby County Ab 104
Go And Wash Your Feet (Barefoot Boy Blues) Ab 104
On The Banks Of The Beautiful Nile Ab 107
It's A Long Rocky Road Ab 107
Words Ab 106
Smokey Joe's Barbecue Ab 106

February 13, 1952, poss. Hollywood, CA; Producer: Fabor Robison
Johnny Horton: vocal; duet vocal*; William "Hillbilly" Barton: duet vocal*; more details unknown
Bawlin' Baby* Ab 109
Somebody's Rockin' My Broken Heart* Ab 108
Betty Lorraine (Betty Lou) Ab 108
Rhythm In My Baby's Walk Ab 109
c.June 1952, poss.Nashville, TN; Producer: D.Kilpatrick
Johnny Horton: vocal; more details unknown
First Train Headed South Mer 6412
The Rest Of Your Life Mer 6418
(I Wished For An Angel) The Devil Sent Me You Mer 6412
This Won't Be The First Time Mer 6418

c.July 1952, Clifford Herring Studio, Fort Worth, TX; Producer: D.Kilpatrick
Johnny Horton: vocal; Jim Reeves: rhythm guitar; Bobby Stegall: steel guitar; Dido Rowley: bass; Jerry Rowley: fiddle; Evelyn Rowley: piano
Child's Side Of Life Mer 70014
I Won't Forget Mer 70014
c.January 1953, Jim Beck Studio, Dallas, TX; Producer: D.Kilpatrick
Johnny Horton: vocal; Jerry Rowley: fiddle; Evelyn Rowley: piano; more details unknown
S.S. Lureline Mer 70156
The Mansion You Stole Mer 70100
I Won't Get Dreamy Eyed Mer 70156
Tennessee Jive Mer 70100

c.May 1953, poss.Nashville, TN; Producer: D.Kilpatrick
Johnny Horton: vocal; more details unknown
Another Woman Wears My Wedding Ring Mer unissued
You, You, You Mer 70198
All For The Love Of A Girl Mer 70227
Two Red Lips And Warm Red Wine Mer 70198

c.August 1953, poss.Nashville, TN; Producer: D.Kilpatrick
Johnny Horton: vocal; more details unknown
Back To My Back Street Mer unissued
Broken Hearted Gypsy Mer 70227
Move Down The Line Mer 70325

c.January 1954, poss.Nashville, TN; Producer: D.Kilpatrick
Johnny Horton: vocal; more details unknown
The Train With The Rhumba Beat Mer 70325
There'll Never Be Another Mary Mer 70462
No True Love Mer 70462
The Devil Made A Masterpiece Mer unissued

c.May 1954, poss.Nashville, TN; Producer: D.Kilpatrick
Johnny Horton: vocal; more details unknown
Ha Ha And Moonface Mer 70399
You Cry In The Door Of Your Mansion Mer 70399

September 23, 1954, KWKH Studio, Shreveport, LA; Producer: D.Kilpatrick
Johnny Horton: vocal; Jack Ford: electric guitar; Joe Hunt: rhythm guitar; Jimmy Day: steel guitar; Charles Winginton: bass; Floyd Cramer: piano
Where Are You Mer unissued
Take My Word Mer unissued/lost
Meant So Little To You Mer unissued

January 11, 1956, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar; Harold Bradley: guitar; Bill Black: bass
I'm A One Woman Man Col 21538, Col 42653
Honky Tonk Man Col 21504, Col 42302
I'm Ready If You're Willing Col 21504
I Got A Hole In My Pirogue Col 40813

May 23, 1956, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar; ray Edenton: guitar; Lighnin' Chance: bass
Take Me Like I Am Col unissued
Sugar-Coated Baby Col 42774
I Don't Like I Did Col 21538
Hooray For That Little Difference Col 42993

November 12, 1956, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar; Harold Bradley: guitar; Bill Black: bass
I'm Coming Home Col 40813
Over-Loving You Col unissued

April 11, 1957, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar; Harold Bradley: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Lighnin' Chance: bass
She Knows Why Col 40919
Honky Tonk Mind (The Woman I Need) Col 40919
Tell My Baby I Love Her Col 42993
Goodbye Lonesome, Hello Baby Doll Col unissued

July 9, 1957, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar; Johnny Mathis: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson: guitar; Lighnin' Chance: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
I'll Do It Everytime Col 40986
You're My Baby Col 41043
Let's Take The Long Walk Home Col 40986
Lover's Rock Col 41043
December 13, 1957, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Lighnin' Chance: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor Col 41110
The Wild One Col 41110
Everytime I'm Kissing You Col unissued

January 27, 1958, KWKH Studio, Shreveport, LA
Johnny Horton: vocal; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Tillman Franks: bass; Sonny Harville: piano; The Four B's (Brad Ingles, Buddy Sepaug, Ben Nordine, Bob McGee)
Hot In The Sugarcane Field -
Lonesome And Heartbroken -
Seven Come Eleven Sesac AD 26
I Can't Forget You Sesac AD 26
Wise To The Ways Of A Woman -
Out In New Mexico Sesac AD 82
Tetched In The Head Sesac AD 26
Just Walk A Little Closer -
Don't Use My Head For A Stepping Stone Sesac AD 26
I Love You, Baby -

June 2, 1958, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar; Reggie Young: guitar; Lighnin' Chance: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
Counterfeit Love Col 41210
Mister Moonlight B 1362-3
All Grown Up Col 41210, Col 42653
Got The Bull By The horns Col unissued

November 10, 1958, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Harold Bradley: guitar/banjo; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
When It's Springtime In Alaska (It's Forty Below) Col 41308, Col 42774, B 1362-2
Whispering Pines Col 41308, B 1362-1

January 27, 1959, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Harold Bradley: guitar/banjo; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
The Battle Of New Orleans Col 41339, B 1362-1, B 1478-2
All For The Love Of A Girl Col 41339, Col 43719, B 1362-3

May 12, 1959, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Harold Bradley: guitar/banjo; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
Lost Highway Col 43143, B 1362-1
Sam Magee Col 43719, B 1362-2
Cherokee Boogie B 1362-2
The Golden Rocket B 1362-3
May 13, 1959, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Harold Bradley: guitar/banjo; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
The Battle Of New Orleans (British version) Col C4 2617 (Canada)
Phillips PB 932 (Great Britain)
Phillips 429 672 BE (Holland)
Joe's Been-A-Gittin' There B 1362-2
The First Train Headin' South B 1362-1
Got The Bull By The Horns B 1362-3
July 1, 1959, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Harold Bradley: banjo; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
Sal's Got A Sugar Lip (rock'n'roll version) -
Words Col 42302
Johnny Reb Col 41437, B 1478-2

July 6, 1959, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
Sal's Got A Sugar Lip Col 41437

September 28, 1959, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums; Floyd Cramer: piano
Ole Slew Foot Col unissued

September 29, 1959, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums; Floyd Cramer: piano
I'm Ready if You're Willing Col 41502
Take Me Like I Am Col 41502
November 1, 1959, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums; Marvin Hughes: piano; unknown: tambourine
They Shined Up Rudolph's Nose Col 41522
The Electrified Donkey Col 41522
The Same Old Tale The Crow Told Me Col 43143

December 30, 1959, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
Sink The Bismark Col unissued

January 7, 1960, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
Sink The Bismark Col 41568, B 1478-2
The Same Old Tale The Crow Told Me Col 41568

March 7, 1960, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums; Unknown: harmonica*; Unknown: jews harp*
Ole Slew-Foot Col 42063
Miss Marcy (Billy Boy) Col 42063
Sleepy-Eyed John Col 41963

March 9, 1960, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums; violins - Brenton Bolden Banks, Howard Carpenter, Lillian Vann Hunt, Vernal Richardson, Wilda Tinsley
The Mansion You Stole Col 41782
They'll Never Take Her Love From Me Col 41963
The Sinking Of The Reuben James B 1478-3

March 10, 1960, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/banjo/leader; Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
Jim Bridger B 1478-1
The Battle Of Bull Run B 1478-3
Snow-Shoe Thompson B 1478-1
John Paul Jones B 1478-3

March 11, 1960, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland: guitar/leader; Harold Bradley: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson:guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
Commanche (The Brave Horse) Col 41685, B 1478-1
Young Abe Lincoln B 1478-3
O'Leary's Cow B 1478-2
Johnny Freedom (with Gordon Stoker) Col 41685, B 1478-1

July 5, 1960, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Billy Byrd: guitar; Harold Bradley: guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums
Go North! Col unissued

July 14, 1960, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Billy Byrd: guitar; Harold Bradley: guitar; Bob Moore: bass; Douglas Kirkham: drums
North To Alaska Col unissued

August 9, 1960, Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Jack Shook: guitar; Harold Bradley: guitar; Tommy Tomlinson: guitar; Joseph Zinkan: bass; Buddy Harman: drums; The Plainsmen: vocal chorus
North To Alaska Col 41782



NB. The following original recordings probably made in early October 1960 at Bob Vittur's apartment at the Prescott Hotel, New York with overdubs as listed.

Overdub Session: October 5, 1964, Columbia Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: Don Law
Johnny Horton: vocal/guitar; Luther Perkins: guitar/leader; Johnny Cash: guitar; Marshall Grant: bass; WS "Fluke" Holland: drums; New Carter Family: vocal chorus
I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Livin' Col 43228
Rock Island Line Col 43228

Overdub Session: July 16, 1969, Columbia Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: George Richey
Johnny Horton: vocal/guitar; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Ray Edenton: guitar; Harold Bradley: guitar; Bob Moore: bass; Buddy Harman:drums; Pig Robbins: piano; George Richey: unknown
Hank And Joe And Me -
The Golden Rocket -
A-Sleepin' At The Foot Of The Bed -
I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Livin' -

Overdub Session: July 16 or 17, 1969, Columbia Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: George Richey
poss. Johnny Horton: vocal/guitar; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Ray Edenton: guitar; Harold Bradley: guitar; Bob Moore: bass; Buddy Harman:drums; Pig Robbins: piano; George Richey: unknown
Old Blind Barnabas -
Evil Hearted Me -
Hot In The Sugar Cane Field -
You Don't Move Me Baby Anymore -
Overdub Session: July 17/18, 1969, Columbia Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; Producer: George Richey
Johnny Horton: vocal/guitar; Grady Martin: guitar/leader; Ray Edenton: guitar; Harold Bradley: guitar; Bob Moore: bass; Buddy Harman:drums; Pig Robbins: piano; George Richey: unknown
The Gosh Darn Wheel -
Broken Hearted Gypsy -
The Church By The Side Of The Road -

DEMO's released by Bear Family records

Early 1950's

All For The Love Of A Girl; Because I'm A Jealous Man; Betty Lorraine; Broken Hearted Gypsy; ‘Cause You're The One For Me; Confusion (#1); Confusion (#2); Dark Haired Beauty From Cuba; The Devil Made A Masterpiece; Down That River Road; Down That River Road (overdubbed); Egg Money; First Train Headed South (1); First Train Headed South (2); Honky Tonk Jelly Roll Blues (1); Honky Tonk Jelly Roll Blues (2); I'm A Fishin' Man; I'm The One That Breaks In Two; I Wish Heartaches Were Strangers; Love And Tell; My Heart Stopped, Trembled And Died; None Of You But All Of Me; Shadows On The Bayou; Smokey Joe's Barbecue; Somebody's Rockin' My Broken Heart (1); Somebody's Rockin' My Broken Heart (2) (duet); Talk Gobbler Talk; The Train With The Rhumba Beat; Two Eyed Sunday Pants; Where Do You Think You Would Stand; Why Did It Happen To Me; Won't You Love Me, Love, Love Me; You, You, You (Caused This Heartache); Big Wheels Rollin'; I Got A Slow Leak In My Heart, You Don't Move Me Baby Anymore; What Will I Do Without You; Alley Girl Ways; Back Up Train; From Memphis To Mobile; Give Me Back My Picture; Hot In The Sugarcane Field; How You're goin' To Make It; Janey; Schottische In Texas; Streets Of Dodge; Take It Like A Man; That Boy's Got The Habit (1); That Boy's Got The Habit (2); Witch Walking Baby; A-Sleepin' At The Foot Of The Bed; Broken Hearted Gypsy

Possibly recorded in early October 1960 at Bob Vittur's apartment at the Prescott Hotel, New York
The Church by The Side Of The Road; Empty Bed Blues; The Golden Rocket; The Gosh Darn Wheel; Hank And Joe And Me; I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Livin'; Old Blind barnabas; Old Dan Tucker; Ole Slew Foot; Rock Island Line; Shake, Rattle And Roll; Take It Like A Man; The Vanishing Race; You Don't Move Me Baby Anymore

Thanks to Bear Family's Richard Weize for the above discography.





UK Price Guide as at 1998

£ sterling

Phillips PB 932 The Battle Of New Orleans/All For the Love Of A Girl 6
Phillips PB 932 The Battle Of New Orleans/All For the Love Of A Girl(78) 20
Phillips PB 951 Sal's Got A Sugar Lip/Johnny Reb 8
Phillips PB 951 Sal's Got A Sugar Lip/Johnny Reb(78) 35
Phillips PB 976 Take Me Like I Am/I'm Ready If You're Willing 6
Phillips PB 976 Take Me Like I Am/I'm Ready If You're Willing(78) 35
Phillips PB 995 Sink The Bismark/The Same Old Story The Crow Told Me 8
Phillips PB 1062 North To Alaska/The Mansion You Stole 6 Phillips PB 1130 When It's Springtime In Alaska/Mr Moonlight 7
Phillips PB 1132 Sleepy Eyed John/They'll Never Take Her Love From Me 8 Phillips PB 1170 Miss Marcy/Ole Slew Foot 8
Phillips PB 1226 Words/Honky Tonk Man 8 Mercury ZEP 10074 THE FANTASTIC JOHNNY HORTON (EP) 35
Mercury 10008 MCE COUNTRY AND WESTERN ACES (EP) 30
Phillips BBL 7464 THE SPECTACULAR JOHNNY HORTON (LP) 30
Phillips BBL 7536 HONKY TONK MAN (LP) 30
London HA-U 8096 DONE ROVIN' (LP) 40
Fontana FJL 306 VOICE OF JOHNNY HORTON (LP) 15
Hallmark SHM 634 THE UNFORGETTABLE JOHNNY HORTON (LP) 12







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