Battle of New Orleans is not just the name of a song, but an actual episode of the 1812 War between the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Capturing its events on tape was originally the idea of Jimmy Driftwood – nothing more than a school principal looking for ways to make his students more interested in U.S.’s history. He wrote the song from an American soldier’s perspective in 1936 and recorded it for RCA in 1958, but it only became famous when it was covered one year later.
This is where Johnny Horton comes into picture – a country and rockabilly singer known for songs that deal with historic and patriotic events. Two more notable titles would be Sink the Bismark (referring to the German battleship with the same name) or North to Alaska (the theme song of a John Wayne-starring movie), both released in 1960. However, Battle of New Orleans remains his most popular song and also the winner of two Grammy awards in 1959, for Song of the Year and Best Country and Western Performance. Horton tragically died in a car accident at the height of his popularity, never getting the chance to follow these hits.
Battle of New Orleans spent 6 consecutive weeks at number one in Billboard Top 100 before being dethroned by Paul Anka’s Lonely Boy.