Many people from the United States of America are huge fans of Country music. During the olden days, only the people from Southern and Northern America were exposed to this music. As a result, most of the fan base was also from there.
But with the increase in streaming services and digitizing of old records, the impact of these ballads has been felt worldwide. Some of the legends have been well known through popular culture as well.
For example, Many of us remember Hank Williams only because of his music being talked about in the popular movie, The Shawshank Redemption. Hank is considered to be the GOAT of country and western music by many. In this blog, however, we are going to talk about Hank’s ex-wife, Billie Jean Horton.
While many of us might remember Billie due to her marriage to popular singers Hank Williams and then Johnny Horton, there is much more to her than meets the eye. Did you know that Billie herself had a very promising singing career? Well, it is true. In this blog, we will talk about Billie Jean Horton and her interesting life.
Her Early Life
Billie was born on the 6th of June 1933 in Bossier City, Louisiana. Her father was a Police chief. As we all know, Louisiana is one of the epi-center of country music; as a result, Billie was also interested in music. She had many released singles, such as Come Back to Wichita, Here Comes Trouble, Ange Tears, and many more.
While pursuing her budding singing career, Billie was always surrounded by fellow singers. During that period, she fell in love and married Harrison Eshelman.
Billie Jean Horton’s Marriage with Hank Walliams
Billie’s marriage with Harrison ended not long after and caused controversy as well. Billie broke off her marriage with Harrison when she was introduced to Hank Williams by a mutual friend, Faron Young.
Also the couple then got married in a private ceremony in Minden, Louisiana. They also exchanged vows at two of Hank’s concerts in 1952.
As we spoke earlier about the controversy, it was due to Billie Jean Horton’s earlier marriage. Billie and Harrison were separated, but their divorce was not finalized at the time of her marriage to Hank.
Thankfully, though, In 1971, a court recognized that ” despite her divorce from Eshelman not being finalized before her wedding with Williams, she entered the marriage in good faith and thus their union was entitled to a presumption of validity.”
Billie Jean Horton and Hank William’s marriage had an unfortunate end. Just a year into their marriage, Hank passed away due to a sudden heart attack on New Year’s day, 1953.
Marriage to Johnny Horton
Billie found love again soon as she married another popular country singer, Johnny Horton. Though we do not have the exact date, the couple got married in September 1953. Billie and Johnny were no ordinary couple, as Billie was highly involved in promoting Johnny’s music career.
The new power couple also had two daughters, Yanina and Melody. They further adopted a girl whom they named Jeri Lynn. They were married together for 7 years.
However, their marriage ended in tragic circumstances. Johnny Horton, unfortunately, passed away in a traffic collision. On the 5th of November 1960, Johnny’s car collided with a truck, and as a result, Johnny lost his life in the accident. The most tragic part about this was that the driver of the truck was intoxicated at the time.
Her Life Ahead
After being widowed a second time, Billie took a break and focused on her career again. She started her career as a recording artist again. In the year 1961, Billie’s record “Ocean of Tears” was released and received rave reviews. So much so that it cracked the “Top 40 Hits of in Country Music.”
Billie then had a brief relationship with popular singer Johnny Cash. This resulted in further controversy as Johnny was married to Vivian Liberto during their brief relationship.
After her brief affair with Johnny Cash, Billie Jean Horton got married for the third time. Interestingly, her third husband had no involvement in the country music scene and was an insurance executive. However, their union did not last long, as the couple divorced a few years later.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of current information available regarding Billie Jean Horton. The most recent update that we could find on her was that, as of 2016, she is living in an assisted living facility. All three daughters live in Shreveport.
When you’re married to one of the most influential people in a particular field, your accomplishments sometimes get overshadowed. Not everyone can be the “Top Dog of the field,” so while your partner gets all the recognition, you sometimes feel like your work is not appreciated.
However, Billie Jean Horton always gave her best shot at not only her own singing career but also at the promotion of Johnny Horton’s work. It is not hard to comprehend that without her work promoting his work, Johnny’s music would have never reached the heights it did.
That work was no “trophy wife” trait. That was all down to work put in by Billie. She sure was mainly in the limelight due to her marriage to Hank Williams and Johnny Horton, but her work, be it singing or promoting, can not be understated.
Billie was one of the few female singers at that period, and we sure are grateful for her paving the way for many singers in the future.