Check Out This Classic Photo of Johnny Cash and Johnny Horton Wetting a Line

by Matthew Memrick

Two famous country souls named Johnny Cash and Johnny Horton are fishing together on a boat caught in a black and white photo for posterity in one serene memory.

One, known as the “Man In Black,” stands on the side of a dingy and reels in his line. The other man, called the Singing Fisherman by many a fan, sits looking out into the water.

The Johnny Cash Twitter account posted the photo of the two friends. The two men loved to fish together, and we don’t have much background in the picture.

Johnny Cash “Wept” Over Horton’s Death

The two men were business partners and did quite a bit of fishing together. They also worked to bring the Cane River Bait Company of Natchitoches, La., to fruition. Horton founded the company in 1959 with help from silent partner Cash. The company produced three lures (the Ole Fire Ball Sinker, the Ole Fire Ball Surface, and the Galloping A).

Sadly, the company was in the early stages of production when Horton died in a tragic 1961 accident, and the company dissolved. Now those Horton-Cash lures are hard-to-find collector’s items. 

One particular lure, seen in an auction, was stored in the original plastic canister with original papers from the “Lures of the Singing Fisherman.” 

In his 2003 autobiography “Cash: The Autobiography,” Cash said he locked himself in a hotel barroom and cried when he heard about Horton’s death. Cash spoke at his friend’s funeral.

Later, the singer dedicated his rendition of Horton’s first big song, “When It’s Springtime In Alaska (It’s Forty Below),” to Horton on his “Personal File” album.

Cash’s Friend A Star

Johnny Horton came to fame as a honky-tonk and rockabilly singer during the 1950s and early 1960s. His 1959 single, “The Battle of New Orleans,” won a 1960 Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording.

According to Wide Open Country, Horton’s rockabilly style was a significant influence on Elvis Presley.

That song had staying power with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, and it held at No. 333 on the RIAA “Songs of the Century” list. Other hit songs were “Sink the Bismarck” and the John Wayne “North to Alaska.” 

Other country stars didn’t forget the singer’s music. Horton’s 1965 hit, “Honky Tonk Man,” was later a top 10 hit for Dwight Yoakam. George Jones covered Horton’s “I’m a One Woman Man.”

The Rockabilly Hall of Fame member’s fame of two years was short-lived before the tragic accident. 

There’s another strange connection between Horton and Hank Williams. Both men gave their final public shows at Austin’s Skyline Club. 

The Wide Open Country article said both men were married to the same woman, Billie Jean Jones, at the time. Horton married Jones in 1953.