Vintage Video: Johnny Horton Sings "The Battle of New Orleans", Which He Recorded 57 Years Ago Today

57 years ago today, Johnny Horton went into the studio to cut the classic country song The Battle of New Orleans.

New Orleans had been written by folk singer/songwriter and teacher Jimmy Driftwood who wanted a song that he could use in the classroom to gain his student's interest in history. The song used the tune from the fiddle piece The 8th of July while the words were based on the story of the 1815 battle that would be the final military action of the War of 1812 between America and Britain. Put together, The Battle of New Orleans certainly didn't seem like the basis for a huge crossover hit.

Horton had already been to the top ten on the country charts five times before the release of The Battle of New Orleans including the number 1 When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below) but it was his newest single that would make his career really take off.

Released in April of 1959, the record went to number 1 not only on the country chart but also on the Billboard Hot 100 where it remained for six weeks. At the end of the year, it was second only to Bobby Darin's Mack the Knife on the list of the biggest hits of 1959.

Horton would make the Billboard top five two more times after New Orleans with Sink the Bismark (1960 / #3 Pop / #6 Country) and North to Alaska (1960 / #4 Pop / #1 Country). The singer was killed on November 5, 1960, when his car was hit by a drunk driver near Milano, TX.

Here are two different live versions of The Battle of New Orleans. The first is from the Ed Sullivan show while the second, audio only, is from the Louisiana Hayride.



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