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Sink the Bismarck


Johnny Horton

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song is sometimes misspelled as "Sink the Bismark" or other variants; the correct spelling is "Bismarck" after the Prussian-German statesman Otto von Bismarck.
When you think of country music songs about German battleships, you'll probably think of this example first. "Sink the Bismarck" was written and performed by country and rockabilly star Johnny Horton. It was specifically inspired by and intended as a novelty song around the 1960 film Sink the Bismarck!, of the same name, plus one exclamation point. While it was used in trailers for the film, it was never actually in the film.

The film is better-known in Germany, being a British war film. It was based on C. S. Forester's novel The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck. However, you'll better recognize Forester as the author of another military navel story, The African Queen, which was also made into the film starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.
This was Horton's second-highest charting hit; you'll remember him much more readily from his 1959 #1 hit "Battle of New Orleans." And his style is quite recognizable, what with the military drums setting up a marching beat and all.
Like many of Horton's more famous songs, "Sink the Bismarck" is a history song based on actual events, which nevertheless gets parodied. "Battle of New Orleans" fostered such Dr. Demento staples as Honer and Jethro's "The Battle of Kookamonga" - so of course they parodied this as well with "We Didn't Sink the Bismarck."
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Comments (4):

On May 1st 1960, Johnny Horton performed "Sink The Bismark" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
Two months earlier on March 7th, 1960 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #69; and on April 25th it peaked at #3 (for 1 week) and spent 18 weeks on the Top 100...
It reached #6 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
The week it peaked at #3 on the Top 100; the #1 record was "Stuck On You" by Elvis and at #2 was "Greenfields" by the Brothers Four...
Between 1959 and 1962 he had eight Top 100 hits; three made the Top 10 and one reached #1, "The Battle of New Orleans', for 6 weeks in 1959...
This appearance on the 'Sullivan' show came one day after his 35th and final birthday; six months later on November 5th, 1960 he would die in an auto crash in Texas...
May 'The Singing Fisherman' R.I.P.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
This song was covered by The Blues Brothers, at Bob's Country bunker... but was cut from the film before release.
- Tim, West Chester, PA
"In May of 1941, the war had just begun," . . . of course, the war had already been going on for almost two years by then, except here in the U.S., where it hadn't yet begun; although we *were* assisting the Brits with the Lend-Lease program, and Nazi subs were patrolling our coast. According to the wikipedia page, it looks like the Bismarck's mission was to interdict Lend-Lease traffic. It lasted just about 9 months after commissioning before joining Davy Jones' fleet; one of the Allies' most heartening early victories . . Good show, Winston! . . Too bad, Adolf!
- Fred, Laurel, MD
About The Bismarck: Being "Germany's Most Famous Battleship of World War II" , the Bismarck ( launched in 1939 ) displaced over 50, 000 tons and 40% of this displacement was armour.. She was capable of 29 knots; and carried a formidible array of weaponry --- 8 x 15 inch guns, 12 x 5.9 inch guns, 16 x 4.1 inch AA guns, 16 x 20mm. AA guns, and 2 x Arado 96 aircraft ; and had a crew of 2,200 men...The Bismarck was torpedoed 3 - times by the submarine, HMS Dorsetshire, and sunk on May 27th 1941 at 10:40 am...Of the 2,200 men, there were only 115 survivors ; with only two officers out of 100 survived.
- PenPal, Chambersburg, PA
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