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JOHNNY HORTON!<br>EARLY Signed Songwriting Contract for<br>4 songs while with Abott Records in 1951

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Country legend Johnny Horton was only 35 years old when he died in a tragic car crash in 1960, but his style continues to influence country music decades after.

The son of sharecroppers, Horton moved around a lot when he was young and his mother taught him to play guitar at age 11. After graduating high school, Johnny attended a seminary with plans of joining a ministry. Soon he left the seminary and moved to Alaska to become a fisherman (for a short time in his career he was known as "The Singing Fisherman"). In Alaska, Johnny Horton began to write many songs. Johnny returned to Texas and won a talent contest hosted by Jim Reeves - and his career in the music business began.

In 1951 Horton gained the attention of Fabor Robison, a wily and notorious country manager known for his eccentricities and scams. Robison landed Horton a deal with Corman Records - but Corman soon folded. Robison immediately started his own label, Abbott Records, with the express intent of recording Johnny Horton. The songs released on Abbot Records failed to chart.

The songs named on the contract offered here were all released during Johnny Horton's brief tenure with Abbot Records - they are some of Johnny's very earliest recordings. Two of the songs ("It's a Long Rocky Road" and "Shadows on the Old Bayou") are still available on a CD collection of Horton's "early years".

By 1952 Robison moved Horton to Mercury records with lukewarm results.

In late 1955 Horton quit Mercury and signed with Columbia - and his first single with Columbia, "Honkey Tonk Man", was an instant country classic.

Horton had a number of honky tonk style hits, but became truly famous when he began producing his folk-based story songs, the most famous of which was "The Battle of New Orleans".

In the fall of 1960, Horton claimed premonitions of his own death. Sadly, the premonitions came true on November 4, 1960 when he was involved in a car crash on the way home to Shreveport, Louisiana after a concert in Texas. Johnny Horton died on the way to the hospital.

The 1951 contract offered here is for four songs that Johnny Horton recorded for Fabor Robison's Abbott Records label in 1951. The songs are:

Ridin' Down This Rocky Trail
Leap Year Girl
It's a Long Rocky Road
Shadows on the Old Bayou

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To view a close-up of the lower portion of the contract with the signature, click the above image.

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