The second biggest record of 1959 was Johnny Horton’s Battle Of New Orleans which sat at number one on the Hot 100 for six weeks. Country crossover records were not that unusual and Johnny had two more top-five pop hits the next year.
The record won a Grammy for the Best Country and Western record of the year and, in a strange twist of fate, it also was responsible for a second Grammy award for a different record by a different act.
Henry “Homer” Haynes and Kenneth “Jethro” Burns met when they each attended an audition at a Knoxville radio station in 1936. They became friends and performed using their nicknames, Junior and Dude, but an announcer forgot their names and referred to them as Homer and Jethro. The nicknames stuck. The duo performed hillbilly versions of otherwise popular songs in an exaggerated manner and the two were viewed as comedians. They were drafted during WW II and returned to performing in the late forties in Cincinnati and later Chicago. They also did some session work for other artists.
Home and Jethro began recording albums in the late forties and some of their singles began hitting the Country charts in 1949. Their biggest record came in 1953 with their recording of How Much Is That Hound Dog In The Window. The single reached number 2 on the Country charts and somehow got to #17 on the pop charts as well.
Following Johnny’s success with The Battle Of New Orleans, Homer and Jethro poked fun at the song with their release of The Battle Of Kookamonga. The record only reached #26 on the Country chart, but somehow made it to #14 on the pop chart in 1959, their best performance there. Seeing them perform live gave us the chance to experience their self-deprecating humor.
The best part of their success? The parody won the Grammy award for Best Comedy Performance – Musical.
The parodies continued into the early seventies…I’m fairly sure their records found airplay again when Dr. Demento hit the airwaves.