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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932 in Kingsland, Arkansas, one of seven children born to Ray Cash and Carrie Cloveree (née Rivers).

Johnny Cash was originally born J.R. Cash. The J.R. didn’t stand for anything because his parents couldn't think of a name. He took on the first name John when he joined the Air Force because the military wouldn't accept a name with just initials.

Cash's mother bought him his first guitar for his 10th birthday in 1942.

Johnny Cash took only three voice lessons in his childhood before his teacher, enthralled with Cash's unique singing style, advised him to stop taking lessons and to never deviate from his natural voice.

During his time serving in the Air Force, Cash was employed as a code breaker based in Germany, intercepting Morse Code transmissions from Russia.

Johnny Cash first met his wife June Carter Cash backstage at the Grand Ole Opry in 1956 while she was singing backup for Elvis Presley.

Publicity photo for Sun Records

They were married on March 1, 1968, just one week after Cash proposed while they were performing together in London, Ontario. Merle Kilgore, who co-wrote Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” served as the best man for the nuptials.

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in 1969

In the late 1950s, Cash and his band bought 500 baby chickens while on tour and released them, 100 at a time, on each of the five floors of a hotel they were staying at in Omaha, Nebraska.

Johnny Cash played the first of his jailhouse shows when he performed at San Quentin prison in San Rafael, California on January 1, 1960. Among those in the captive audience was Merle Haggard, who was serving time for burglary.

In October 1965, Cash was arrested upon returning from Mexico when US Customs agents searched his luggage and found hundreds of illegal pills. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $1,000.

Johnny Cash performed in Folsom State Prison on January 13, 1968. By this time Cash had been performing at prisons for several years, after having his own run-ins with the law, mostly due to drugs. The recording of the concert went on to sell more than three million copies.


He sold over six-and-a-half million records in 1969, This was more than any other artist at that time had sold in one year.


Cash starred in the 1974 "Swan Song" episode of Columbo as Tommy Brown, a homicidal country singer evading the clutches of the homicide detective.

On May 8, 1976, Johnny Cash received an honorary degree, a Doctorate of Humane Letters, from National University in San Diego, Californa. San Diego’s mayor at the time, Mayor Frank Curran, also declared the day National Johnny Cash Day. The Man in Black had previously received a Doctor of Humanities degree in 1971 from Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina..

In his song "Man in Black" Cash explained that he wore predominately black clothing to honor and remind others of the suffering of the world's poor and oppressed.

Johnny Cash had long since kicked his drug habit, when, in a bizarre series of events in the early 1980s, he was attacked by a male Ostrich he had been keeping on his farm after he had threatened the huge bird. He was put onto pain killers to survive the critical injuries and quickly became an addict again. He checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic, successfully quit pain killers, and made friends with Ozzy Osbourne while at the Clinic.

In 1985, Cash published Man In White, a novel about the life of Saint Paul the Apostle.

Cash was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on January 15, 1992. The Man in Black was also inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame during his lifetime.


Johnny Cash guest stared in The Simpsons voicing a fox that Homer hallucinated after eating a spicy pepper.

Cash made his last ever live performance on July 5, 2003, when he appeared at the Carter Ranch.

Johnny Cash died on September 12, 2003 at Baptist Hospital in Nashville of complications from diabetes.

Cash's original grave (top) and the Cash/Carter memorial

Barry Gibb from The Bee Gees bought the Tennessee house Cash lived in from 1968 until his death. In 2007, while the home was being renovated for Gibb, it caught fire and burned to the ground.

In 2005, Johnny Cash's life was chronicled in the Oscar-winning film Walk the Line.

Here is a Songfacts entry detailing songs inspired by Johnny Cash.

Source Artistfacts

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