Roy Horton

Champion of country music

Roy Horton, music publisher: born Broad Top, Pennsylvania 5 November 1914; married (one son, one daughter); died Manchester, Connecticut 23 September 2003.

Roy Horton played a vital role in the popularisation of country music. As a longtime publishing executive he championed some of the genre's most important writers. Latterly he became a leading figure in the industry's most influential professional body, the Country Music Association.

Born in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, he looked set to spend his life working in the coalmines. The draw of music, however, was too strong and, having learned to play the upright bass, he and his guitar-playing brother Vaughn formed a hillbilly group that they took to New York in 1935. Known as the Pinetoppers and fronted by a pair of female vocalists billed as the Beaver Valley Sweethearts, the band appeared on local radio and cut several records, one of which, "Mockin' Bird Hill" became both a country and pop hit in 1950.

During the mid-Forties, Horton joined Ralph Peer's Southern Music Publishing Company, formed by Peer in 1928 to meet the demand for hillbilly songs. Starting with Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter family, the organisation went on to sign major country writers such as Jimmie Davis, Lefty Frizzell, Bill Monroe and Floyd Tillman, and it became Horton's job to promote them.

His long-cherished idea of creating an album featuring some of the best material from the Peer catalogue came to fruition in the 1990s. Believing that Merle Haggard was the ideal performer for such a project, he organised a series of recording dates in Nashville and at Haggard's Californian ranch resulting in The Peer Sessions, released in 2002. In addition to featuring fine renditions of standards such as "Peach Pickin' Time in Georgia" and "It Makes No Difference Now", the album boasts a unique version of "Hang on to the Memories" on which Haggard is joined by the centenarian country and gospel legend Jimmie Davis.

The Country Music Association was formed, in 1958, to preserve and to market the genre at a time when its existence faced a very real threat from rock'n'roll. Horton eventually became its chairman. During the early 1960s, he became one of the most vocal proponents of a Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, intended to celebrate the music's greatest figures whilst serving, through its displays of memorabilia, as a focus for Nashville tourism. The project was completed in 1967 and Horton cut the ribbon at its opening ceremony.

In 1982 he himself was finally inducted into the hall's ranks.

Paul Wadey

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence