In 1950, he began singing on the radio in Pasadena, near Houston. Horton became famous for such ballads as “The Battle of New Orleans,” “North to Alaska,” and “Johnny Reb.” However, Horton was much more than a ballad singer. He also combined honky-tonk with early rockabilly to create his own unique style. His first big hit, “Honky Tonk Man,” captured the essence of the honky-tonk lifestyle, but it also incorporated a rockabilly beat that was quite unusual in country music at the time.
Tragically, Johnny Horton died in a car wreck near Milano, Texas, on November 5, 1960, but his music remains popular and has been recorded by Dwight Yoakam and many other prominent country singers.