Johnny Cash
Singer and songwriter
Johnny Cash
John R. "Johnny" Cash, was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author, who has been called one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Although he is primarily remembered as a country music icon, his songs and sound spanned many other genres including rockabilly and rock and roll—especially early in his career—as well as blues, folk, and gospel.
Biography
Johnny Cash's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Johnny Cash from around the web
Super Bowl LI Reminds Us Of Our Common Threads With Moving Johnny Cash Song
Huffington Post - 20 days
Though it might be hard to remember right now, America has the ability to come together and recognize the things that unite us.  During Super Bowl LI on Sunday, Johnny Cash helped highlight that forgotten fact as his song “Ragged Old Flag,” the title track off his 1974 album, ran during a moving segment of the pre-show.  The song’s opening lines are:  I walked through a county courthouse square, On a park bench an old man was sitting there. I said, “Your old courthouse is kinda run down.” He said, “Naw, it’ll do for our little town.” I said, “Your old flagpole has leaned a little bit, And that’s a Ragged Old Flag you got hanging on it.” He said, “Have a seat,” and I sat down. ”Is this the first time you’ve been to our little town?” I said, “I think it is.” He said, “I don’t like to brag, But we’re kinda proud of that Ragged Old Flag. Hard to think of three more American things than the Super Bowl, Johnny Cash and our nation’s flag. ...
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Huffington Post article
Meet Busbee, the producer who helped Maren Morris get to the Grammys
LATimes - 23 days
When Maren Morris started writing songs for her major-label debut, “Hero,” the 26-year-old country singer “knew where my musical compass pointed,” as she put it recently. A self-described “’90s baby,” Morris grew up in Texas listening to Johnny Cash, Chaka Khan and the Spice Girls, and she wanted...
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LATimes article
A-Sides with Jon Chattman: The 66 Best Things in Pop Culture in 2016
Huffington Post - about 2 months
2016 was a bad year. We know it. It's been written everywhere. The world is in complete disarray. Even if you voted for Trump, you have to agree with that. Celebrity deaths were too much to handle. The Oscars were "so white." Mariah pulled a Milli Vanilli at the final hour. I could go on and on, but I won't. The year wasn't all bad. Here are my personal favorite things about the year in film, television, and music in no particular order. Share your own below. Here's hoping 2017 is better. Believe in hope. 1. The Chicago Cubs winning The World Series and Bill Murray and John Cusack's reactions to it 2. Lion - the acting, writing, and direction 3. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences 4. David Bowie's grand exit - Lazarus 5. Bon Iver's brilliant 22, A Million 6. Everything about Nocturnal Animals 7. Letters to Cleo's comeback 8. Spider-man's awesome cameo in Civil War 9. Amy Adams in Arrival especially the scene in which she makes "contact" 10. Westworld, a serie ...
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Huffington Post article
Don't Be Mean in Seventeen
Huffington Post - about 2 months
Notes from Indian Country By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji - Stands Up For Them) As the headline reads I pondered about how to start off the New Year with my first column of 2017 when I saw the slogan that makes up the headline on a television ad. Wow; sounds good to me, and so with that attitude in mind I sat down at my computer to kick off 2017. First let me digress here: I have written a column since 1981, and that makes 36 years of sometimes good and sometimes not-so-good columns. I will endeavor to make my columns beginning in the New Year better. One year my column won the H. L. Mencken Award from the Baltimore Sun. It was a column about my now deceased friend Enos Poor Bear and a Lakota Christmas. Over the holidays my wife Jackie went to visit Jim White at the Sound Pro in Rapid City and bought me an old fashioned turntable record player and a professional sound system to accompany it. She knew I had a box of old vinyl records I had packed in a box. I had been carrying ...
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Huffington Post article
Brandinista's Best + Worst Brands of 2016 Music, Theater, Retail, and More
Huffington Post - 2 months
I started Best + Worst Brands as a weekly column in 2009. It was a way for me to talk about what I love (brand, culture, and design) while opening a window into my life (therapy). A form of creative nonfiction-New Journalism. Thank you for reading and sharing, sending me stuff to review, and encouraging me to write. To note, my criteria for selecting 2016's Best and Worst brands are as follows: 1. Engagement 2. Transparency 3. Relevancy 4. Impact 5. Endurance I wanted this list to be expansive across industries and to note, obvious failures like Wells Fargo and Samsung have not been isolated because my peers at Forbes and The Wall Street Journal have done a good job of slamming them already. I'm writing original content here☺ (in my Jersey Shore voice). With Jon Stewart off the air and a desert of researched and fact-checked truths on nearly every cable and online news platform, I found solace watching the patriotic Saturday Night Live cast through the iridescent suds in ...
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Huffington Post article
Johnny And June Cash's Former Home Is Up For Sale
Huffington Post - 3 months
We can’t get enough of the epic romance that is Johnny and June. And now, we can live it: The Hendersonville, Tennessee property where the duo spent nearly their entire marriage is up for sale. Johnny Cash purchased the 4.5-acre property shortly before proposing to June Carter in the late ‘60s, according to a spokesperson for the property. The couple lived there until they died just four months apart in 2003. The original home burned to the ground in a tragic 2007 fire, but the Cash footprint is still found on the property. June’s wardrobe room, which survived the fire, is now a modern studio apartment. The garage where Johnny kept his cars still stands. Seashells from Johnny and June’s other home in Jamaica are embedded into the pavement, and their son John lives across the street, the spokesperson said. The property’s new owner will also get access to a lakefront dock, pool and loads of green space. There is no listed asking price from seller James Gresham, a Texas busi ...
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Huffington Post article
Johnny Cash: The 'Fresh Air' Interview
NPR - 3 months
After recording hits in the '50s and '60s, Cash's career cooled down. Then, a '94 collaboration with producer Rick Rubin transformed the former country star into an icon. Originally broadcast in 1997.
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NPR article
PBS's <i>Soundbreaking</i>: Hank Shocklee Explains How Recording a Song is Harder Than Turning on Your iPhone
Huffington Post - 3 months
Frank Sinatra records would rarely be confused with Public Enemy records. But the thing to understand about record production, says Hank Shocklee, is that the principle is the same. Shocklee (above) is one of more than a hundred voices explaining the production mystique in Soundbreaking, an exhaustive eight-part PBS series that launches at 10 p.m. ET Monday. It was the last project of the late Sir George Martin (below), who is best known for producing the Beatles, and it ropes in artists and producers from Paul McCartney, Elton John and B.B. King to Questlove and Sheila E. Its sheer length might wear some casual music fans down, but as a look into why so many great records sounded great, it's insightful and invaluable. This isn't about how the sausage was made. This is about how Sgt. Pepper, Thriller and Fear of a Black Planet were made. Shocklee is best known for producing some of the most explosive hip-hop albums ever, when he and the aptly named Bomb Squad ...
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Huffington Post article
Television: Going Inside the Studio in ‘Soundbreaking’ on PBS
NYTimes - 4 months
The people behind the sounds of Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Johnny Cash and more are part of this series exploring the recording process.
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NYTimes article
Part Three: New York City
Huffington Post - 4 months
The first decade of our marriage, my husband Glenn and I had one niece and one nephew. It made it very easy to begin a tradition that would eventually become unsustainable. Our siblings started to procreate willy nilly starting in the mid 1990's, and we now have a total of 13 wonderful nieces and nephews. But for a while there, in the late 80's and early 90's, Rachel and her brother Dave were the only show in town. We began to host them for a week each, in the summer. We began calling it Camp Thomas, and we'd schedule vacation days to devote our full attention to our charges. We would try and tailor the week around them, and what they liked to do. We did lots of field trips to zoos, museums, the State Capitol, and Fort Snelling. We'd go roller-skating around the lakes or take in a Twins game at the old Metrodome. It was kind of like entertaining an out of town client, who happens to be in grade school. Since they lived in Fargo-Moorhead, and we live in the Twin Cities, ...
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Huffington Post article
Alt Rockers Echo Black Are Back With A Hard-Driving Love Song
Huffington Post - 4 months
Danny Blu, who is the lead singer of the New York-based alternative rock band Echo Black, was happily in the throes of a new relationship when he sat down to write his latest song.  The result is “Disappear,” a mid-tempo ballad with heartfelt lyrics that perfectly contrast against dramatic guitar shreds. The Huffington Post got an exclusive listen to the track, which can be heard below.   “Can you love me for tonight, so I can love you for forever? And if you bring me back to life, then it won’t matter if there’s heaven,” Blu sings in the track. The singer-songwriter told HuffPost that “Disappear” reflects his own initial skepticism about love, eventually giving way to the realization that his relationship with his current boyfriend was “different, and real” compared to previous romances.  “I was looking for the right way to describe our relationship and how it came to be. So it means a lot to me,” he said. “I was definitely one of those people who had sort ...
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Huffington Post article
The Night Bob Dylan Made Sense
Huffington Post - 4 months
Twenty-four years ago, a concert predicted Dylan's future as a Nobel Laureate. Bob Dylan is officially the songwriter with the most bling. He's got plaques, statues, gramophones, and now a Nobel Prize in Literature. True to form, the Minnesota-born singer performed a career-spanning set at the Desert Trip music festival in California Friday night but never mentioned the amazing honor bestowed upon him Thursday morning. What a rock and roll thing to do: ignore the elephant in the room simply by being the bigger elephant. He's more decorated than Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, and Neil Young. With his new prize, Dylan has won the crown for all time. For America. But if Dylan is a living, breathing national hero, why have we been eulogizing him since he was a young man, almost as if he was dead ? I first asked this question when I attended a 30th anniversary Dylan tribute concert at Madison Square Garden. It was October 16, 1992, and the marquee read, "Columbia Recor ...
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Huffington Post article
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Celebrates the Legacy of Johnny Cash
NPR - 5 months
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is kicking off a week-long celebration of the life and work of Johnny Cash as part of its Annual Music Masters series. Performances, panels and educational programs will commemorate the legacy of “The Man in Black.” Rock Hall of Fame Education Director Jason Hanley says Cash’s vast career has made him an influential figure. “He was there at Sun Records in the 1950’s and recorded for Columbia Records later on. [He] had a career that spans decades.” An appearance by Rosanne Cash will be among the highlights of this week’s festivities.
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NPR article
In The Spirit Of The GI Bill, Cancel All Student Debt
Huffington Post - 5 months
Once upon a time this country thought big. We survived the Great Depression, fought the Second World War, rebuilt Europe on the Marshall Plan... and provided tuition-free education for college students. Ask anybody from that era about the G.I. Bill and chances are you'll hear how someone's life was changed for the better. That bill educated a generation and provided affordable opportunities to form households and start small businesses. At the same time, and for years afterward, many public colleges and universities charged little or no tuition. Not coincidentally, these moves were followed by an extraordinary period of growth in jobs and wages. Today, it seems, we have forgotten how to think big. Austerity economists and the anti-government right wing have persuaded us to cut education funding and, in so doing, drastically increase college costs. Students and their families are now shouldering what was once society's shared obligation: investing in the education that will lead ...
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Huffington Post article
Wells Fargo chief is taken to task over fake accounts
LATimes - 5 months
Good morning. It is Wednesday, Sept. 21. And we’re sure about that, because we’ve had our morning coffee (unlike yesterday). Now, here are a few words from Johnny Cash on our fair state. And here's what else is happening in the Golden State: TOP STORIES Banking testimony Wells Fargo chief John...
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LATimes article
NASA releases 'ring of fire' eclipse video
Fox News - 6 months
Eat your heart out, Johnny Cash.
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Fox News article
Is Online Divorce An Option For You?
Huffington Post - 6 months
Online divorce? Here's what comes to most people's minds. Some guy living in his mom's basement gets a brilliant idea while watching cartoons and eating Tostitos. "A crap load of people get divorced every single day and have to go down to the court house to get all that paper work. They don't know exactly where to go, who to ask or even what forms they need. So why don't I just do it once and advertise online divorce? I'll make a fortune!" Online divorce is born. Ok, I might be exaggerating a bit... maybe he was watching The Brady Bunch. The point is that online divorce just doesn't seem like a real option for your divorce, does it? It might be okay for someone who's got two Johnny Cash eight-tracks and $180 bucks in the bank that he's got to split, but not for your divorce, right? Wrong. That is if we're talking about Wevorce. Wevorce is the brainchild of Michelle Crosby, a family lawyer with a mediation certification from Harvard University. She and her team ...
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Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Johnny Cash
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2003
    Age 70
    CT on September 12, 2003, aged 71—less than four months after his wife.
    More Details Hide Details It was suggested that Johnny's health worsened due to a broken heart over June's death. He was buried next to his wife in Hendersonville Memory Gardens near his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. In June 2005, Cash's lakeside home on Caudill Drive in Hendersonville was put up for sale by his estate. In January 2006, the house was sold to Bee Gees vocalist Barry Gibb and wife Linda, and titled to their Florida limited liability company for $2.3 million. The listing agent was Cash's younger brother, Tommy. On April 10, 2007, during a major restoration of the property by the new owner, Cash's home was accidentally destroyed in a spontaneous combustion-ignited fire caused by workers using linseed oil products. One of Cash's final collaborations with producer Rick Rubin, American V: A Hundred Highways, was released posthumously on July 4, 2006. The album debuted in the No.1 position on the Billboard Top 200 album chart for the week ending July 22, 2006. On February 23, 2010, three days before what would have been Cash's 78th birthday, the Cash Family, Rick Rubin, and Lost Highway Records released his second posthumous record, titled American VI: Ain't No Grave.
    Cash continued to record until shortly before his death. His final recordings were made on August 21, 2003, and consisted of "Like the 309," which would appear on American V: A Hundred Highways in 2006, and the final song he completed, "Engine 143," which was recorded for his son John Carter Cash for a planned Carter Family tribute album.
    More Details Hide Details While hospitalized at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Cash died of complications from diabetes at approximately 2:00 a.m.
    At the July 5, 2003, concert (his last public performance), before singing "Ring of Fire," Cash read a statement about his late wife that he had written shortly before taking the stage:
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    June Carter Cash died on May 15, 2003, at the age of 73.
    More Details Hide Details June had told Cash to keep working, so he continued to record, completing 60 more songs in the last four months of his life, and even performed a couple of surprise shows at the Carter Family Fold outside Bristol, Virginia.
  • 1999
    Age 66
    In 1999, Cash received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
    More Details Hide Details In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Cash No. 31 on their "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list and No. 21 on their "100 Greatest Singers" list in 2010. In 2012 Rolling Stone ranked Cash's 1968 live album At Folsom Prison and 1994 studio album American Recordings at No. 88 and No. 366 in its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The main street in Hendersonville, Tennessee, Highway 31E, is known as "Johnny Cash Parkway." The Johnny Cash Museum, located in one of Cash's properties in Hendersonville until 2006, dubbed the House of Cash, was sold based on Cash's will. Prior to this, having been closed for a number of years, the museum had been featured in Cash's music video for "Hurt." The house subsequently burned down during the renovation by the new owner. A new museum, founded by Shannon and Bill Miller, opened April 26, 2013 in downtown Nashville.
  • 1998
    Age 65
    He was hospitalized in 1998 with severe pneumonia, which damaged his lungs.
    More Details Hide Details Later, he released the albums American III: Solitary Man (2000) and American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002). The video for "Hurt," a cover of the song by Nine Inch Nails, from American IV, received particular critical and popular acclaim.
  • 1997
    Age 64
    In 1997, Cash was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease Shy–Drager syndrome, a form of multiple system atrophy; according to biographer Robert Hilburn, the disease was originally misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease, and Cash even announced to a concert audience that he had Parkinson's during a show in Flint, Michigan, on October 25, 1997, after he nearly collapsed on stage; soon after his diagnosis was changed to Shy–Drager and Cash was told he had approximately 18 months to live.
    More Details Hide Details The diagnosis was later again altered to autonomic neuropathy associated with diabetes. The illness forced Cash to curtail his touring.
  • 1996
    Age 63
    In 1996, Cash enlisted the accompaniment of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and released Unchained (also known as American Recordings II), which won the Best Country Album Grammy in 1998.
    More Details Hide Details The album was produced by Rick Rubin with Sylvia Massy engineering and mixing. A majority of "Unchained" was recorded at Sound City Studios and featured guest appearances by Lindsay Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and Marty Stuart. Believing he did not explain enough of himself in his 1975 autobiography Man in Black, he wrote Cash: The Autobiography in 1997.
  • 1994
    Age 61
    Cash wrote that his reception at the 1994 Glastonbury Festival was one of the highlights of his career.
    More Details Hide Details This was the beginning of a decade of music industry accolades and commercial success. He teamed up with Brooks & Dunn to contribute "Folsom Prison Blues" to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Country produced by the Red Hot Organization. On the same album, he performed the Bob Dylan favorite "Forever Young." Cash and his wife appeared on a number of episodes of the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. He also lent his voice for a cameo role in The Simpsons episode "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)", as the "Space Coyote" that guides Homer Simpson on a spiritual quest.
  • 1993
    Age 60
    In 1993, he sang "The Wanderer" on U2's album Zooropa.
    More Details Hide Details Although no longer sought after by major labels, he was offered a contract with producer Rick Rubin's American Recordings label, which had recently been rebranded from Def American, under which name it was better known for rap and hard rock. Under Rubin's supervision, he recorded American Recordings (1994) in his living room, accompanied only by his Martin Dreadnought guitar – one of many Cash played throughout his career. The album featured covers of contemporary artists selected by Rubin and had a great deal of critical and commercial success, winning a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1991
    Age 58
    In 1991, he sang a version of "Man in Black" for the Christian punk band One Bad Pig's album I Scream Sunday.
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  • 1988
    Age 55
    At a hospital visit in 1988, this time to watch over Waylon Jennings (who was recovering from a heart attack), Jennings suggested that Cash have himself checked into the hospital for his own heart condition.
    More Details Hide Details Doctors recommended preventive heart surgery, and Cash underwent double bypass surgery in the same hospital. Both recovered, although Cash refused to use any prescription painkillers, fearing a relapse into dependency. Cash later claimed that during his operation, he had what is called a "near death experience". Cash's recording career and his general relationship with the Nashville establishment were at an all-time low in the 1980s. He realized that his record label of nearly 30 years, Columbia, was growing indifferent to him and was not properly marketing him (he was "invisible" during that time, as he said in his autobiography).
  • 1987
    Age 54
    After Columbia Records dropped Cash from his recording contract, he had a short and unsuccessful stint with Mercury Records from 1987 to 1991.
    More Details Hide Details During this time, he recorded an album of new versions of some of his best-known Sun and Columbia hits, as well as Water from the Wells of Home, a duets album that paired him with, among others, his children Rosanne Cash and John Carter Cash, as well as Paul McCartney. A one-off Christmas album recorded for Delta Records followed his Mercury contract. His career was rejuvenated in the 1990s, leading to popularity with an audience which was not traditionally considered interested in country music.
  • 1986
    Age 53
    Also in 1986, Cash published his only novel, Man in White, a book about Saul and his conversion to become the Apostle Paul.
    More Details Hide Details He recorded Johnny Cash Reads The Complete New Testament in 1990.
    In 1986, Cash returned to Sun Studios in Memphis to team up with Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins to create the album Class of '55; according to Hilburn, Columbia still had Cash under contract at the time, so special arrangements had to be made to allow him to participate.
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  • 1984
    Age 51
    After more unsuccessful recordings were released in 1984-85, Cash left Columbia (At least as a solo artist; he continued to record for Columbia on non-solo projects until as late as 1990, recording a duets album with Waylon Jennings and two albums as a member of The Highwaymen.)
    More Details Hide Details
    In 1984, Cash released a self-parody recording titled "Chicken in Black," about Cash's brain being transplanted into a chicken and Cash receiving a bank robber's brain in return.
    More Details Hide Details Biographer Robert Hilburn, in the 2013-published Johnny Cash: The Life disputes the claim made that Cash chose to record an intentionally poor song in protest of Columbia's treatment of him. On the contrary, Hilburn writes, it was Columbia that presented Cash with the song, which Cash - who had previously scored major chart hits with comedic material such as "A Boy Named Sue" and "One Piece at a Time" - accepted enthusiastically, performing the song live on stage and filming a comedic music video in which he dresses up in a superhero-like bank robber costume. According to Hilburn, Cash's enthusiasm for the song waned after Waylon Jennings told Cash he looked "like a buffoon" in the music video (which was showcased during Cash's 1984 Christmas TV special), and Cash subsequently demanded that Columbia withdraw the music video from broadcast and recall the single from stores—interrupting its bona fide chart success—and termed the venture "a fiasco.
  • 1983
    Age 50
    Cash relapsed into addiction after being administered painkillers for a serious abdominal injury in 1983 caused by an unusual incident in which he was kicked and wounded by an ostrich he kept on his farm.
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    In 1983, he appeared as a heroic sheriff in Murder in Coweta County, based on a real-life Georgia murder case, which co-starred Andy Griffith as his nemesis and featured June Carter in a small but important role.
    More Details Hide Details Cash had tried for years to make the film, for which he won acclaim.
  • FORTIES
  • 1981
    Age 48
    During that period, Cash appeared in a number of television films. In 1981, he starred in The Pride of Jesse Hallam, winning fine reviews for a film that called attention to adult illiteracy.
    More Details Hide Details In the same year, Cash appeared as a "very special guest star" in an episode of the Muppet Show.
  • 1980
    Age 47
    In 1980, Cash became the Country Music Hall of Fame's youngest living inductee at age 48, but during the 1980s his records failed to make a major impact on the country charts, although he continued to tour successfully.
    More Details Hide Details In the mid-1980s, he recorded and toured with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson as The Highwaymen, making three hit albums which were released beginning with the originally titled "Highwaymen" in 1985, followed by "Highwaymen 2" in 1990, and concluding with "Highwaymen – The Road Goes on forever" in 1995. Of the group's four members, Cash was the only non-Texan.
  • 1979
    Age 46
    His friendship with Billy Graham led to the production of a film about the life of Jesus, The Gospel Road, which Cash co-wrote and narrated. Cash and June Carter Cash appeared several times on the Billy Graham Crusade TV specials, and Cash continued to include gospel and religious songs on many of his albums, though Columbia declined to release A Believer Sings the Truth, a gospel double-LP Cash recorded in 1979 and which ended up being released on an independent label even with Cash still under contract to Columbia.
    More Details Hide Details On November 22, 1974, CBS ran his one-hour TV special entitled "Riding The Rails", a musical history of trains. He continued to appear on television, hosting an annual Christmas special on CBS throughout the 1970s. Later television appearances included a starring role in an episode of Columbo, entitled "Swan Song". He and June appeared in an episode of Little House on the Prairie, entitled "The Collection". He gave a performance as John Brown in the 1985 American Civil War television mini-series North and South. Johnny and June also appeared in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman in recurring roles. He was friendly with every US President starting with Richard Nixon. He was closest to Jimmy Carter, with whom he became close friends and who was a distant cousin of his wife, June Carter Cash.
  • 1976
    Age 43
    In 1976 he made commercials for Lionel Trains, for which he also wrote the music.
    More Details Hide Details However, his first autobiography, Man in Black, was published in 1975 and sold 1.3 million copies. A second, Cash: The Autobiography, appeared in 1997.
    In 1976, a further prison concert, this time at Tennessee Prison, was videotaped for TV broadcast and received a belated CD release after Cash's death as A Concert Behind Prison Walls.
    More Details Hide Details In 1965, Cash and June Carter appeared on Pete Seeger's TV show, Rainbow Quest, on which Cash explained his start as an activist for Native Americans: Columbia, the label for which Cash was recording then, was opposed to putting the song on his next album, considering it "too radical for the public". Cash singing songs of Indian tragedy and settler violence went radically against the mainstream of country music in the 1950s, which was dominated by the image of the righteous cowboy who simply makes the native's soil his own. In 1964, coming off the chart success that his previous album "I Walk The Line" had been, he recorded the aforementioned album Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. The album featured stories of a multitude of native peoples, mostly of their violent oppression by white settlers: The Pima ("The Ballad of Ira Hayes"), Navajo ("Navajo"), Apache ("Apache Tears"), Lakota ("Big Foot"), Seneca ("As Long as the Grass Shall Grow"), and Cherokee ("Talking Leaves"). Cash wrote three of the songs himself and one with the help of Johnny Horton, but the majority of the protest songs were written by folk artist Peter La Farge (son of activist and Pulitzer prizewinner Oliver La Farge), whom Cash met in New York in the 1960s and whom he admired for his activism. The album's single, "The Ballad of Ira Hayes," was neglected by non-political radio at the time, and the record label denied it any promotion due to its provocative protesting and thus "unappealing" nature.
  • 1973
    Age 40
    The live album På Österåker ("At Österåker") was released in 1973. "San Quentin" was recorded with Cash replacing "San Quentin" with "Österåker".
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1972
    Age 39
    Cash performed at the Österåker Prison in Sweden in 1972.
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  • 1970
    Age 37
    When invited to perform at the White House for the first time in 1970, Richard Nixon's office requested that he play "Okie from Muskogee" (a satirical Merle Haggard song about people who despised youthful drug users and war protesters), "Welfare Cadillac" (a Guy Drake song which denies the integrity of welfare recipients), and "A Boy Named Sue."
    More Details Hide Details Cash declined to play the first two and instead selected other songs, including "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" (about a brave Native American World War II veteran who was mistreated upon his return to Arizona), and his own compositions, "What Is Truth" and "Man in Black". Cash wrote that the reasons for denying Nixon's song choices were not knowing them and having fairly short notice to rehearse them, rather than any political reason. However, Cash added, even if Nixon's office had given Cash enough time to learn and rehearse the songs, their choice of pieces that conveyed "anti-hippie and anti-black" sentiments might have backfired. In his remarks when introducing Cash, Nixon joked that one thing he'd learned about the singer was one didn't tell him what to sing.
  • 1969
    Age 36
    In 1969 Cash became an international hit when he eclipsed even the Beatles by selling 6.5 million albums.
    More Details Hide Details In comparison, the prison concerts were much more successful than his later live albums such as Strawberry Cake recorded in London and Live at Madison Square Garden which only reached at the top of their chart 33 and 39 respectively. The Folsom Prison record was introduced by a rendition of his "Folsom Prison Blues," while the San Quentin record included the crossover hit single "A Boy Named Sue," a Shel Silverstein-penned novelty song that reached No. 1 on the country charts and No. 2 on the U.S. Top Ten pop charts. The AM versions of the latter contained profanities which were edited out. The modern CD versions are unedited and thus also longer than the original vinyl albums, though they retain the audience reaction overdubs of the originals.
  • 1968
    Age 35
    According to longtime friend Marshall Grant, Cash's 1968 rebirth experience did not result in his completely stopping use of amphetamines.
    More Details Hide Details However, beginning in 1970, Cash ended all drug use for a period of seven years. Grant claims that the birth of Cash's son, John Carter Cash inspired Cash to end his dependence. Cash began using amphetamines again in 1977. By 1983, he was once again addicted and entered the Betty Ford Clinic in Rancho Mirage, California for rehabilitation. Cash managed to stay off drugs for several years, but by 1989, he was dependent again and entered Nashville's Cumberland Heights Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center. In 1992, he entered the Loma Linda Behavioral Medicine Center in Loma Linda, California, for his final rehabilitation (several months later, his son followed him into this facility for treatment). Cash began performing concerts at prisons starting in the late 1950s. His first prison concert was on January 1, 1958, at San Quentin State Prison. These performances led to a pair of highly successful live albums, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (1968) and Johnny Cash at San Quentin (1969). Both live albums reached number 1 on Billboard country album music and the latter crossed over to reach the top of the Billboard pop album chart.
    Cash proposed onstage to June at a concert at the London Gardens in London, Ontario, Canada, on February 22, 1968; the couple married a week later (on March 1) in Franklin, Kentucky.
    More Details Hide Details She had agreed to marry Cash after he had "cleaned up." He rediscovered his Christian faith, taking an "altar call" in Evangel Temple, a small church in the Nashville area, pastored by Reverend Jimmie Rodgers Snow, son of country music legend Hank Snow.
    Cash curtailed his use of drugs for several years in 1968, after a spiritual epiphany in the Nickajack Cave, when he attempted to commit suicide while under the heavy influence of drugs.
    More Details Hide Details He descended deeper into the cave, trying to lose himself and "just die," when he passed out on the floor. He reported being exhausted and feeling at the end of his rope when he felt God's presence in his heart and managed to struggle out of the cave (despite the exhaustion) by following a faint light and slight breeze. To him, it was his own rebirth. June, Maybelle, and Ezra Carter moved in to Cash's mansion for a month to help him conquer his addiction.
    The couple married on March 1, 1968, in Franklin, Kentucky.
    More Details Hide Details They had one child together, John Carter Cash, born March 3, 1970.
  • 1967
    Age 34
    Cash's final arrest was in 1967 in Walker County, Georgia, after being involved in a car accident while carrying a bag of prescription pills.
    More Details Hide Details Cash attempted to bribe a local deputy, who turned the money down, and then spent the night in a LaFayette, Georgia, jail. The singer was released after a long talk with Sheriff Ralph Jones, who warned him of his dangerous behavior and wasted potential. Cash credited that experience for saving his life, and he later came back to LaFayette to play a benefit concert that attracted 12,000 people (the city population was less than 9,000 at the time) and raised $75,000 for the high school. Reflecting on his past in a 1997 interview, Cash noted: "I was taking the pills for awhile, and then the pills started taking me."
    Nonetheless, he continued to find success and in 1967, Cash's duet with June Carter, "Jackson," won a Grammy Award.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1966
    Age 33
    Liberto stated that Cash's drug and alcohol abuse, as well as constant touring, affairs with other women, and his close relationship with June Carter led her to file for divorce in 1966.
    More Details Hide Details Cash's career was handled by Saul Holiff, a London, Ontario, promoter, and this relationship was the subject of Saul's son's biopic My Father and the Man in Black. Cash met June Carter, of the famed Carter Family while on tour and became infatuated, as did she. In 1968, 13 years after they first met backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, Cash proposed to June, during a live performance in London, Ontario.
  • 1965
    Age 32
    Cash had also been arrested on May 11, 1965, in Starkville, Mississippi, for trespassing late at night onto private property to pick flowers. (This incident gave the spark for the song "Starkville City Jail", which he discussed on his live At San Quentin album.) In the mid-1960s, Cash released a number of concept albums, including Sings the Ballads of the True West (1965), an experimental double record mixing authentic frontier songs with Cash's spoken narration, and Bitter Tears (1964), with songs highlighting the plight of the Native Americans.
    More Details Hide Details His drug addiction was at its worst at this point, and his destructive behavior led to a divorce from his first wife and canceled performances.
    Although Cash carefully cultivated a romantic outlaw image, he never served a prison sentence. Despite landing in jail seven times for misdemeanors, each stay lasted only a single night. His most infamous run-in with the law occurred while on tour in 1965, when he was arrested October 4 by a narcotics squad in El Paso, Texas.
    More Details Hide Details The officers suspected he was smuggling heroin from Mexico, but found instead 688 Dexedrine capsules (amphetamines) and 475 Equanil (sedatives or tranquilizers) tablets that the singer had hidden inside his guitar case. Because the pills were prescription drugs rather than illegal narcotics, he received a suspended sentence.
    In June 1965, his camper caught fire during a fishing trip with his nephew Damon Fielder in Los Padres National Forest in California, triggering a forest fire that burnt several hundred acres and nearly killed Cash.
    More Details Hide Details Cash claimed that the fire was caused by sparks from a defective exhaust system on his camper, but Fielder thinks that Cash started a fire to stay warm and in his drugged condition failed to notice the fire getting out of control. When the judge asked Cash why he did it, Cash said, "I didn't do it, my truck did, and it's dead, so you can't question it." The fire destroyed, burning the foliage off three mountains and driving off forty-nine of the refuge's 53 endangered condors. Cash was unrepentant and claimed, "I don't care about your damn yellow buzzards." The federal government sued him and was awarded $125,172 ($ in dollars). Cash eventually settled the case and paid $82,001. He said he was the only person ever sued by the government for starting a forest fire.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1961
    Age 28
    He also acted in and wrote and sang the opening theme for a 1961 film entitled Five Minutes to Live, later re-released as Door-to-door Maniac.
    More Details Hide Details As his career was taking off in the late 1950s, Cash started drinking heavily and became addicted to amphetamines and barbiturates. For a brief time, he shared an apartment in Nashville with Waylon Jennings, who was heavily addicted to amphetamines. Cash used the uppers to stay awake during tours. Friends joked about his "nervousness" and erratic behavior, many ignoring the warning signs of his worsening drug addiction. In a behind-the-scenes look at The Johnny Cash Show, Cash claims to have "tried every drug there was to try." Although he was in many ways spiraling out of control, Cash's frenetic creativity was still delivering hits. His rendition of "Ring of Fire" was a crossover hit, reaching No. 1 on the country charts and entering the Top 20 on the pop charts. It was originally performed by June's sister, but the signature mariachi-style horn arrangement was provided by Cash, who said that it had come to him in a dream. Vivian Liberto claimed a different version of the origins of "Ring of Fire." In her book, I Walked the Line: My Life with Johnny, Liberto states that Cash gave Carter the credit for monetary reasons.
  • 1957
    Age 24
    Cash's next record, "Folsom Prison Blues", made the country Top 5, and "I Walk the Line" became No. 1 on the country charts and entered the pop charts Top 20. "Home of the Blues" followed, recorded in July 1957.
    More Details Hide Details That same year Cash became the first Sun artist to release a long-playing album. Although he was Sun's most consistently selling and prolific artist at that time, Cash felt constrained by his contract with the small label partly due to the fact that Phillips wasn't keen on Johnny recording gospel, and he was getting only a 3% royalty as opposed to the standard rate of 5%. Presley had already left Sun, and Phillips was focusing most of his attention and promotion on Lewis. The following year, Cash left the label to sign a lucrative offer with Columbia Records, where his single "Don't Take Your Guns to Town" became one of his biggest hits and his second album for Columbia was a collection of gospel songs. However, Cash left behind a sufficient backlog of recordings with Sun that Phillips continued to release new singles and even albums featuring previously unreleased material until as late as 1964, placing Cash in the unusual position of having new releases out on two labels concurrently, with one 1960 release, a cover of "Oh Lonesome Me" making as high as No. 13 on the C&W charts. (As opposed to when RCA Victor signed Presley and also bought his Sun Records masters, when Cash departed for Columbia, Phillips retained the rights to Cash's Sun masters; Columbia would eventually license some of these recordings for release on compilations after Cash's death.) Early in his career, he was given the teasing nickname The Undertaker by fellow artists because of his habit of wearing black clothes - though he did so only because they were easier to keep looking clean on long tours.
  • 1955
    Age 22
    In 1955, Cash made his first recordings at Sun, "Hey Porter" and "Cry!
    More Details Hide Details Cry! Cry! ", which were released in late June and met with success on the country hit parade. On December 4, 1956, Elvis Presley dropped in on Phillips while Carl Perkins was in the studio cutting new tracks, with Jerry Lee Lewis backing him on piano. Cash was also in the studio and the four started an impromptu jam session. Phillips left the tapes running and the recordings, almost half of which were gospel songs, survived and have since been released under the title Million Dollar Quartet. In Cash: the Autobiography, Cash wrote that he was the one farthest from the microphone and was singing in a higher pitch to blend in with Elvis.
  • 1954
    Age 21
    In 1954, Cash and Vivian moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he sold appliances while studying to be a radio announcer.
    More Details Hide Details At night he played with guitarist Luther Perkins and bassist Marshall Grant. Perkins and Grant were known as the Tennessee Two. Cash worked up the courage to visit the Sun Records studio, hoping to get a recording contract. After auditioning for Sam Phillips, singing mostly gospel songs, Phillips told him that he didn't record gospel music any longer. It was once rumored that Phillips told Cash to "go home and sin, then come back with a song I can sell", although in a 2002 interview Cash denied that Phillips made any such comment. Cash eventually won over the producer with new songs delivered in his early rockabilly style.
    On August 7, 1954, one month after his discharge, they were married at St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church in San Antonio.
    More Details Hide Details The ceremony was performed by her uncle, Father Vincent Liberto. They had four daughters: Rosanne, Kathy, Cindy, and Tara.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1951
    Age 18
    On July 18, 1951, while in Air Force training, Cash met 17-year-old Vivian Liberto at a roller skating rink in her native San Antonio.
    More Details Hide Details They dated for three weeks, until Cash was deployed to Germany for a three-year tour. During that time, the couple exchanged hundreds of pages of love letters.
  • 1950
    Age 17
    Cash enlisted in the United States Air Force on July 7, 1950.
    More Details Hide Details After basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and technical training at Brooks Air Force Base, both in San Antonio, Texas, Cash was assigned to the 12th Radio Squadron Mobile of the U.S. Air Force Security Service at Landsberg, Germany as a Morse Code operator intercepting Soviet Army transmissions. It was there he created his first band, named "The Landsberg Barbarians". He was the first radio operator to pick up the news of the death of Joseph Stalin. He was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant on July 3, 1954, and returned to Texas. During his military service he acquired a distinctive scar on his face as a result of surgery to remove a cyst.
  • 1944
    Age 11
    Cash was very close to his older brother, Jack. In May 1944, Jack was pulled into a whirling head saw in the mill where he worked and was almost cut in two.
    More Details Hide Details He suffered for over a week before he died on May 20, 1944, at age 15. Cash often spoke of the horrible guilt he felt over this incident. According to Cash: The Autobiography, his father was away that morning, but he and his mother, and Jack himself, all had premonitions or a sense of foreboding about that day, causing his mother to urge Jack to skip work and go fishing with his brother. Jack insisted on working, as the family needed the money. On his deathbed, Jack said he had visions of Heaven and angels. Decades later, Cash spoke of looking forward to meeting his brother in Heaven. Cash's early memories were dominated by gospel music and radio. Taught guitar by his mother and a childhood friend, Cash began playing and writing songs at the age of twelve. When Cash was young, he had a high tenor voice, before becoming a bass-baritone. In high school he sang on a local radio station; decades later he released an album of traditional gospel songs, called My Mother's Hymn Book. He was also significantly influenced by traditional Irish music that he heard performed weekly by Dennis Day on the Jack Benny radio program.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1935
    Age 2
    The Cash children were: Roy, Margaret Louise, Jack, J. R., Reba, Joanne, and Tommy. Tommy Cash also became a successful country artist. In March 1935, when Cash was three years old, the family settled in Dyess, Arkansas.
    More Details Hide Details He started working in cotton fields at age five, singing along with his family while working. The family farm was flooded on at least two occasions, which later inspired him to write the song "Five Feet High and Rising". His family's economic and personal struggles during the Great Depression inspired many of his songs, especially those about other people facing similar difficulties.
  • 1932
    Born
    Cash was born on February 26, 1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas, one of seven children born to Ray Cash (May 13, 1897, Kingsland, Arkansas – December 23, 1985, Hendersonville, Tennessee) and Carrie Cloveree (née Rivers; March 13, 1904, Rison, Arkansas – March 11, 1991, Hendersonville, Tennessee).
    More Details Hide Details He was mostly of Scottish and English ancestry, and as an adult traced his surname to 11th-century Fife, Scotland, after meeting with the then-laird of Falkland, Fife, Major Michael Crichton-Stuart. Cash Loch and other locations in Fife bear the name of his family. At birth, Cash was named J. R. Cash. When Cash enlisted in the United States Air Force, he was not permitted to use initials as a first name, so he changed his name to John R. Cash. In 1955, when signing with Sun Records, he took Johnny Cash as his stage name.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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