Brantley Moses Horton, Jr. was born in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1921. When Shorty began to walk, his family noticed that he could walk under the kitchen table without bending over. From that day on, Brantley was known as "Shorty" Horton.
Shorty was called up to serve in World War II. He fought in France at Normandy, as well as Germany. Shorty's family notes that his unit went overseas with 100 men, and only 3 came back home. Shorty received the Purple Heart, and carried pieces of metal in his head and knee from war wounds.
The Wray legend goes that Shorty was a family cousin. Not true in the "biological sense"...Shorty and the Wrays were not related. However, in keeping with long standing Southern tradition, people close to the family were called "cousin".
Shorty met the Wrays when they moved up to Portsmouth from Dunn in 1943. He joined the Lucky Wray band playing bass.
Shorty was there for all the early recordings. When Vernon purchased his home in Accokeek, Shorty lived for a time in the guest house behind it. He continued to record and play with the Ray Men. During the "down time" with the band, Shorty worked at the Wray Grocery and Pool Hall, just a few hundred feet up Livingston Road near Vernon's home.
Shorty played bass for the Ray Men at the beginning, and was on all the early hits. In the early 1960's, Shorty began to drive the old limo that shuttled the band from gig to gig, while others filled in on bass. There's an unverified rumor that Link thought Shorty looked "too old" and he wanted some younger faces in the band.
After leaving the Ray Men, Shorty played in a number of bands, such as the Vince Maloy Trio and Smokey Mac. Shorty was often playing gigs at a club across from Andrews Air Force Base Main Gate in Suitland Maryland.
In 1967, one of Shorty's bands played the White House, for the staff Christmas party. Shorty received a hand-written Christmas card from LBJ and Lady Bird Johnson after the gig. It's a prized possession of one of Shorty's family to this day.
Shorty had a regular gig with a band at the Gold Rush on 14th and K Streets in Washington during the late from around 1970 until the time he died.. "14th Street" was a rough part of town in those days and known for it's strip of clubs and the ladies of the night that walked the streets. The Gold Rush must have been quite a joint back in the day...go-go bar on the first floor, a strip show on the second floor, and Shorty's band playing on the 3rd floor six nights a week.
In addition to playing music, Shorty filled in his daylight hours by becoming a barber, just like another Ray Man, Link's brother Doug.
Sadly, Shorty passed away on November 11, 1974. After loving music all his life, he was appropriately buried with his Fender Bassman guitar.
SHORTY HORTON PHOTOS