On this date in 1959, JOHNNY HORTON released the single THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS (Apr 6, 1959)
NOTE: The video here is Johnny performing the song on Dick Clark’s Saturday Beech-Nut Show. I’ve upscaled and colourized the original black and white film.
Although he is better-remembered for his…
Hi! Running the page is a one-man operation. I write and research the articles, and edit the videos which involves several hours of work - upscaling, colourising and tweaking in various software.
If you could see fit to make a small donation then it would help me to keep the page running.
Thank you and best wishes, Paul
Just visit one of the links to donate (all secure connections):
…historical songs, Johnny Horton was one of the best and most popular honky tonk singers of the late '50s.
Horton managed to infuse honky tonk with an urgent rockabilly underpinning. His career may have been cut short by a fatal car crash in 1960, but his music reverberated throughout the next three decades.
‘The Battle of New Orleans’ was written by Jimmy Driftwood, an Arkansas high school principal and history teacher who loved singing and writing songs. He often wrote songs to help students learn about historical events like this battle. In this case, near the end of the War of 1812, British troops attacked the city, but were defeated by American forces.
When he performed the song, Driftwood would sometimes include this narrative: “After the Battle of New Orleans, which Andrew Jackson won on January the 8th eighteen and fifteen, the boys played the fiddle again that night, only they changed the name of it from the battle of a place in Ireland to the ‘Eighth of January.’ Years passed and in about nineteen and forty-five an Arkansas school teacher slowed the tune down and put words to it and that song is The Battle Of New Orleans and I will try to sing it for you.”
It has been recorded by many artists, but the singer most often associated with this song is Johnny Horton. His version scored number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959 (see 1959 in music). Billboard ranked it as the No. 1 song for 1959, it was very popular with teenagers in the late 1950s/early 1960s in an era mostly dominated by rock and roll music.
Horton’s version began with the quoting of the first 12 notes of the song “Dixie”, by Daniel Emmett. It ends with the sound of an officer leading a count off in marching, as the song fades out.
Soon after he was awarded a Gold Record (then given for sales of one million copies of singles) for this, Horton asked the person who gave it to him (RIAA’s Bill Gallagher) if he could trade it for four “Golden Guitar” awards, given by the RIAA for a Country single that sold at least 250,000 copies. Horton’s wife thought the Gold Record didn’t fit the home decor, but the Golden Guitar did…
This won the 1959 Grammys for Song of the Year (for composer Jimmy Driftwood) and Best Country and Western Performance for Johnny Horton.
British skiffle star Lonnie Donegan had a #2 hit in the UK in 1959 with his live version recorded at Bristol Hippodrome. His version was originally banned by the BBC as it contained the word “Ruddy.” Once Donegan substituted the word “Blooming,” the BBC started playing it.
Horton died on November 5, 1960 in an auto accident after playing at the Skyline Club in Austin, Texas, which is the same place Hank Williams made his final appearance. Horton’s widow Billie Jean Jones Eshlimar was once married to Williams.