One of eleven children, Roy Horton grew up in the Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania, where he was born near Broad Top.
November 5, 1914
September 23, 2003
Near Broad Top, Pennsylvania
He and older brother Vaughn (George Vaughn Horton, born at Broad Top on June 6, 1911) turned from coal mining, their father’s occupation, to making music—first on radio in Pennsylvania and later in New York City, with club work all along the East Coast.
Roy played bass behind Red River Dave McEnery at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Roy also did a good many New York recording sessions for different artists, some of which were secured for him by Vaughn in his capacity as R&B-specialty producer for a number of New York companies (Continental, National, Majestic, MGM, London, and Varsity among others).
With three other men plus the Beaver Valley Sweethearts, or Trudy and Gloria Martin, the Hortons formed the band Pinetoppers, which popularized on Coral Records one of Vaughn’s biggest songwriting hits—“Mockin’ Bird Hill,” in 1951. Vaughn hit it big with his country songwriting: he wrote “Hillbilly Fever,” “’Til the End of the World,” “Address Unknown,” and “Sugarfoot Rag.” Roy’s talents, on the other hand, turned toward music publishing.
In the 1940s Roy began his long association with Peer-Southern Music, where he worked for more than forty years, promoting the classic repertoires of such artists as Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, Floyd Tillman, Ted Daffan, Jimmie Davis, and Bill Monroe. Though based in New York, Roy served the Country Music Association (CMA) and Country Music Foundation (CMF) since their inceptions. To help raise funds for the original Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum building, he was instrumental in assembling a multi-artist album that was one of the first to be marketed on television; as CMA board chairman in March 1967, he participated in the ribbon-cutting for this facility. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1982.
Vaughn Horton died February 29, 1988; Roy Horton died September 23, 2003. – Ronnie Pugh
– Adapted from the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s Encyclopedia of Country Music, published by Oxford University Press.