"The Battle of New Orleans" is a song written by Jimmy Driftwood. The song describes the 1815 Battle of New Orleans from the perspective of an American soldier; the song tells the tale of the battle with a light tone and provides a rather comical version of what actually happened at the battle. 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 50's/early 60's in an era mostly dominated by rock and roll music.
In Billboard magazine's rankings of the top songs in the first 50 years of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, "The Battle of New Orleans" was ranked as the 28th song overall and the number-one country music song to appear on the chart.
Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.
John LaGale "Johnny" Horton (April 30, 1925 – 5 November, 1960), was an American country music and rockabilly singer and musician, best known for his saga ballads beginning with the song "The Battle of New Orleans", which was awarded the 1960 Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording. The song was awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame Award and in 2001 ranked No. 333 of the Recording Industry Association of America's "Songs of the Century". His first number 1 country song was in 1959, "When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)".
During 1960, Horton had two other successes with "Sink the Bismarck" and "North to Alaska" for John Wayne's movie, North to Alaska. Horton died in November 1960 at the peak of his fame in an automobile accident, less than two years after his breakthrough. Horton is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
Johnny Cash and Johnny Horton. Johnny Cash considered Horton a real good friend and was devastated when Horton was killed by a drunk driver on the way home from a gig.The melody is based on a well-known American fiddle tune "The 8th of January," which was the date of the Battle of New Orleans. Jimmy Driftwood, a school principal in Arkansas with a passion for history, set an account of the battle to this music in an attempt to get students interested in learning history. It seemed to work, and Driftwood became well known in the region for his historical songs. He was "discovered" in the late 1950s by Don Warden, and eventually was given a recording contract by RCA, for whom he recorded 12 songs in 1958, including "The Battle of New Orleans."
"The Battle of New Orleans" is often played during North American sporting events, and is commonly heard during home games of the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames Original Horton 45 rpm discs of the song are now worth many times the original cost, partly because the price is inflated. It was regarded with derision in Britain as the British forces withdrew from the battle after heavy losses had put victory out of the question. The British lost 2,036 men, while the Americans under command of future president Andrew Jackson lost only 71.