Saturday, May 21, 2011

North To Alaska ~ Johnny Horton

One of my favourite rockabilly songs by one of my favourite Country and Western Singer.

Great life story on Wikipedia. He actually did got to Alaska for a while to look for gold. This excerpt relating to his premonition of death and death at the hands of a drunk driver is eerie.

Premonitions of death

Horton had premonitions of his death and 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 mother visit for the week. He canceled his scheduled attendance at the premiere of North To Alaska and tried to back out of his next gig, a nightclub date at the Skyline club in Austin, Texas on November 4, 1960. A major singer, which he had now become, should not have been playing such a engagement for such little reward ($800), but the consensus is that he needed money again, and together with Franks' medical bills for his recent hernia operation, any money was welcome.[citation needed]

Tommy Tomlinson flew in from Nashville, where he was producing 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 telephoned Johnny Cash for a chat. Cash didn't accept the call, and always regretted it. Against his wife's wishes, Franks got out of his sick bed and they began traveling to Austin.

When they got to the Skyline club, Horton stayed in his dressing room, saying that a drunk would kill him if went near the bar. After the show, they started the 220-mile (350 km) journey back to Shreveport. Tomlinson was in the back, observing that Horton was driving too fast - Franks was asleep in the front. About 2 a.m., 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 practiced avoiding head-on collisions by driving into verges, but on the narrow bridge he had no opportunity. He was still breathing when he was pulled out of the car but died on the way to the hospital. The 19-year-old truck driver, James Davis, was intoxicated. Horton had died due to a drunk. It is believed that a sun visor rod pierced Horton's skull. Franks suffered head injuries and young Tomlinson had multiple leg fractures and nine months later, had his left leg amputated. Davis was virtually unscathed.

Tillman's preacher brother, Billy, performed the funeral service on November 8, 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 airplane.

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