Milano, TX Singer Johnny Horton Dies In Auto Accident, Nov 1960

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Milano, Tex. (AP) -- Recording star JOHNNY HORTON, 35, was killed early today in a two-car head-on collision on a railroad overpass in this central Texas town.

HORTON was driving a car, state police said, in which TILMAN FRANKS, his manager, and GERALD D. TUMLINSON were riding. All were residents of Shreveport, La.

Both FRANKS and TUMLINSON were injured, along with the driver of the second car, JAMES EVANS DAVIS, 19, Brady, Tex. All were taken to a hospital at nearby Cameron, Tex.

HORTON was a former star of the national radio program Louisiana Hayride originating on station KWKH, Shreveport.

HORTON, skyrocketed to fame with his recording of "The Battle of New Orleans," written by his manager.

His wife, BILLIE JEAN, is the widow of HANK WILLIAMS, another famous Western singer who died of a heart attack in 1953. MRS. HORTON resides in Shreveport.

Reno Evening Gazette Nevada 1960-11-05


After the show [at the Skyline Club in Austin, Texas], [Tommy Tomlinson, Tillman Franks and Johnny Horton] started the 220-mile 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, Horton was crossing a bridge when a truck came at them, hitting both sides of the bridge before plunging into Horton's Cadillac. Horton had in the past avoided head-on collisions by driving into ditches, but on the narrow bridge he had no such opportunity. He was still breathing when he was pulled from the car but died en route to the hospital. The 19-year-old truck driver, James Davis, a student at Texas A&M University in College Station en route to his family residence in Brady in Central Texas, was intoxicated. Franks suffered head injuries, and young Tomlinson had multiple leg fractures, which nine months later required amputation of his left leg. Davis only suffered a broken ankle with other cuts and bruises.

Tillman Franks' younger brother, William D. "Billy" Franks, a Church of God minister in Shreveport, preached Horton's funeral on November 8, 1960. Billie Jean Horton hence became a widow for the second time at the age of twenty-eight. Johnny Cash read Chapter 20 from the Book of John, having flown in on a chartered airplane for Horton's services.

Horton is interred, with a cemetery bench in his honor, at the Hillcrest Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Haughton, east of Bossier City in northwestern Louisiana.