1932 — 2003
"I wear black for
the poor and beaten down..."
CASH was born February 26, 1932, in Kingsland,
Arkansas. John R Cash was one of six children belonging to Ray and Carrie
Rivers Cash. When John was three years old, his father took advantage of a
new Roosevelt farm program and moved his young family to Dyess Colony in
northeast Arkansas. There the Cash family farmed 20 acres of cotton and
other seasonal crops, where John worked alongside his parents and siblings in the
fields. Music was an integral part of everyday life in the Cash household.
John soaked up a variety of musical influences ranging from his mother’s
folk songs, those of the cotton fields and the nearby railroads yards. In later
years Cash would draw from his time in Arkansas for inspiration. "Pickin Time",
"Five Feet High And Rising", and "Look At Them Beans" are all reflections
Cash’s early life.
“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” - the man in black would
say, in a voice of quiet intensity ... and the audience would go wild. The
Arkansas native worked in a Michigan auto factory, then headed to Memphis,
where he became pals with Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis at Sun Records.
He scored big hits with “I Walk The Line” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and with
June Carter, a member of country music’s royal Carter Family - they wed in
1968. When the 70’s rolled around, the man with the deep voice ( and the
deep experience of American life ) was in tune with the country craze. He
had his own TV show, kept the hits coming, performed at the Nixon White
House and on his way to a 1992 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall
“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash”
Those four words resonate throughout the world as much as "In
God We Trust" and other familiar phrases which have stood the test of time.
Yet this introduction is no more necessary than telling someone the name of
the Mona Lisa when viewing the painting. Johnny Cash is a household name,
and his career spans nearly five decades.
Few artists in history have enjoyed the successful career Cash has. Many
people described him as a mythical, larger than life figure. Others
described him as one of the greatest recording artists of all time.
Yet there is no one description which could adequately fit The Man In Black.
He was a complex, unpredictable, ball of talent and energy that no one has
ever been able to pigeonhole or categorize.
Friday, September 12 2003
Music legend Johnny Cash dies at 71
by John Gerome
September 12, 2003 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)
Johnny Cash, "The Man in Black" who became a towering figure
in American music with such hits as "Folsom Prison Blues," "I Walk the
Line," and "A Boy Named Sue," died Friday. He was 71.
"Johnny died due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in
respiratory failure," Cash's manager, Lou Robin, said in a statement issued
by Baptist Hospital in Nashville.
He said Cash died at the hospital at 1 a.m. EDT.
"I hope that friends and fans of Johnny will pray for the Cash family to
find comfort during this very difficult time," Robin said.
Cash had been released from the hospital Wednesday after a two-week stay for
treatment of an unspecified stomach ailment. The illness caused him to miss
last month's MTV Music awards, where he had been nominated in seven
Cash had battled a disease of the nervous system, autonomic neuropathy, and
pneumonia in recent years.
Dozens of hit records defined Cash's persona: a haunted, dignified,
resilient spokesman for the working man and downtrodden.
Cash's deeply lined face fits well with his unsteady voice, which was limited
in range but used to great effect to sing about prisoners, heartaches, and
tales of everyday life. He wrote much of his own material, and was among the
first to record the songs of Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson.
"One Piece at a Time" was about an assembly line worker who built a car out
of parts stolen from his factory. "A Boy Named Sue" was a comical story of a
father who gives his son a girl's name to make him tough. "The Ballad of Ira
Hayes" told of the drunken death of an American Indian soldier who helped
raise the American flag at Iwo Jima during World War II, but returned to
harsh racism in America.
Cash said in his 1997 autobiography "Cash" that he tried to speak for
"voices that were ignored or even suppressed in the entertainment media, not
to mention the political and educational establishments."
Cash's career spanned generations, with each finding something of value in
his simple records, many of which used his trademark rockabilly rhythm.
Cash was a peer of Elvis Presley when rock 'n' roll was born in Memphis in
the 1950s, and he scored hits like "Cry! Cry! Cry!" during that era. He had
a longtime friendship and recorded with Bob Dylan, who has cited Cash as a major
He won 11 Grammys - most recently in 2003, when "Give My Love To Rose"
earned him honors as best male country vocal performance - and numerous
Country Music Association awards. He was elected to the Country Music Hall
of Fame in 1980 and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
His second wife, June Carter Cash, and daughter Rosanne Cash also were
successful singers. June Carter Cash, who co-wrote Cash's hit "Ring of Fire"
and partnered with her husband in hits such as "Jackson," died in May.
The late 1960s and '70s were Cash's peak commercial years, and he was host
of his own ABC variety show from 1969-1971. In later years, he was part of the
Highwayman supergroup with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.
In the 1990s, he found a new artistic life recording with rap and hard rock
producer Rick Rubin on the American Recordings label. And he was back on the
charts in 2002 with the album "American IV: the Man Comes Around."
Most recently, Cash was recognized for his cover of the Nine Inch Nails song
"Hurt" with seven nominations at last month's MTV Video Music Awards. He had
hoped to attend the event but couldn't because of his hospital stay. The
video won an award for best cinematography.
He also wrote books including two autobiographies, and acted in films and
In his 1971 hit "Man in Black," Cash said his black clothing symbolized the
downtrodden people in the world. Cash had been "The Man in Black" since he
joined the Grand Ole Opry at age 25.
"Everybody was wearing rhinestones, all those sparkle clothes and cowboy
boots," he said in 1986. "I decided to wear a black shirt and pants and see
if I could get by with it. I did and I've worn black clothes ever since."
John R. Cash was born Feb. 26, 1932, in Kingsland, Ark., one of seven
children. When he was 12, his 14-year-old brother and hero, Jack, died after
an accident while sawing oak trees into fence posts. The tragedy had a
lasting impact on Cash, and he later pointed to it as a possible reason his
music was frequently melancholy.
He worked as a custodian and enlisted in the Air Force, learning guitar
while stationed in Germany, before launching his music career after his 1954
"All through the Air Force, I was so lonely for those three years," Cash
told The Associated Press during a 1996 interview. "If I couldn't have sung
all those old country songs, I don't think I could have made it."
Cash launched his career in Memphis, performing on radio station KWEM. He
auditioned with Sun Records, ultimately recording the single "Hey Porter,"
which became a hit.
Sun Records also launched the careers of Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee
Lewis and a host of others.
"Folsom Prison Blues," went to No. 4 on the country charts in 1956, and
featured Cash's most famous couplet: "I shot a man in Reno/ just to watch
Cash recorded theme albums celebrating the railroads and the Old West, and
decrying the mistreatment of American Indians. Two of his most popular
albums were recorded live at prisons. Along the way he notched 14 No. 1
country music hits.
Because of Cash's frequent performances in prisons and his rowdy lifestyle
early in his career, many people wrongly thought he had served prison time.
He never did, though he battled addictions to pills on and off throughout
He blamed fame for his vulnerability to drug addiction.
"When I was a kid, I always knew I'd sing on the radio someday. I never
thought about fame until it started happening to me," he said in 1988. "Then
it was hard to handle. That's why I turned to pills."
He credited June Carter Cash, whom he married in 1968, with helping him stay
off drugs, though he had several relapses over the years and was treated at
the Betty Ford Center in California in 1984.
June Carter Cash was the daughter of country music great Mother Maybelle
Carter, and the mother of singer Carlene Carter, whose father was country
singer Carl Smith. Together, June Carter and Cash had one child, John Carter
Cash. He is a musician and producer.
Singer Rosanne Cash is Johnny Cash's daughter from his first marriage, to
Vivian Liberto. Their other three children were Kathleen, Cindy and Tara.
They divorced in 1966.
In March 1998, Cash made headlines when his California-based record company,
American Recordings, took out an advertisement in the music trade magazine
Billboard. The full-page ad celebrated Cash's 1998 Grammy award for best
country album for "Unchained." The ad showed an enraged-looking Cash in his
younger years making an obscene gesture to sarcastically illustrate his
thanks to country radio stations and "the country music establishment in
Nashville," which he felt had unfairly cast him aside.
Jennings, a close friend, once said of Cash: ``He's been like a brother to
me. He's one of the greatest people in the world.''
Cash lived in Hendersonville, Tenn., just outside of Nashville. He also had
a home in Jamaica.
An Unauthorized Biography Of Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash is one of the greatest phenomena in 20th and 21st century
recorded music. From his earliest recordings in the 1950s for Sun Records,
to his work with producer, Rick Rubin for American Recordings in the first
year of the new millennium. The Man In Black has thrilled and inspired
successive generations of admirers. Through his music, his TV shows and his
many appearances in films, through his tireless commitment to touring and
recording, and through his religious beliefs, the word according to Johnny
Cash has been one of struggle, heartbreak, loss and reconciliation. Johnny
Cash - not just on of our finest singers, songwriters and storytellers but
one of the greatest and most enigmatic entertainers of our time.
Johnny Cash, is a man whose whole persona seems to be shrouded in tones of
black. His adult life has been a constant struggle against inner demons ...
yet it is also one of extraordinary achievements.
His early years were beset by his family's struggles, poverty and grief. But
there was always the solace of music
After a stint in the Security Service during the Cold War, Cash returns home
to marry and moves to Memphis, the centre of his musical universe. He begins
a phenomenally successful stint with Sam Phillips of Sun
The Sun Kings
Together with Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash takes
his place in the front line of musical and cultural change. His first recording
with the Tennessee Two are classic rockabilly hits. [The Tennessee
Two - Marshall Grant (bass 1955-1980) and Luther Perkins (guitarist
1955-1968) - became The Tennessee Three when joined by drummer, WS "Fluke"
Holland, in 1960.]
Into The Mainstream
Drugs, marriage and mainstream success - a heady combination, and even at
this early stage, the writing is on the wall for Johnny Cash. Life as one of
the most respected recording artists of his generation is not going to be an
entirely comfortable journey.
With success comes the collapse of his first marriage and a dependency on
narcotics that almost destroys him. But his marriage to June Carter brings
personal salvation and the rescue of his career as a performer and recording
Behind The Bars
Cash's greatest commercial success of the 60s comes from his recording
performances in two prisons. Folsom and San Quentin. Increasing his myth as
the dark soul of country music a novelty song about "A Boy Named Sue"
becomes his most renowned pop hit.
Johnny Cash's commitment to his faith brings problems of an unexpected
nature, but his recording output continues to be prodigious. He scores a
second novelty pop hit about a car worker who steals a Cadillac "One Piece
At A Time"
The Invisible Eighties
Though absent from the charts during the 1980s Cash's legend continues to
grow as he becomes the youngest living person to inducted into the Country
Music Hall Of Fame. Health problems bring a turnaround in his personal life
and is reunited on record with Sun Kings.
The Legend Of An American Recording Artist
Having moved from Columbia to Polygram, his recording career hits rock bottom
until a producer, famed for his work with crossover hip hop acts comes to
the rescue.. and Johnny becomes hip again
The Wild Horse Tamed At Last
His second autobiography reveals a man who has reined in his wildest demons,
perhaps forever. As the century draws to a close there comes more bad news
about his health but, Johnny Cash continues to inspire and amaze with a new
LP of timeless recordings from this Man In Black.
Tributes pour in for Johnny Cash
2003 - Source: ninemsn)
AFP - Johnny Cash, US country music icon for nearly five
decades, died here Friday at the age of 71, drawing mournful remembrances
from the spectrum of his entertainment brethren as well as the White House.
A contemporary of rock and roll legend Elvis Presley, Cash went on to
inspire a generation of rock stars with his rugged, simple style and hits
like I Walk the Line, Ring of Fire and A Boy Named Sue.
The singer died at 2:00 am (1700 AEST) at the Baptist Hospital in Nashville,
surrounded by his family, said a hospital spokesman.
"Johnny died due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in
respiratory failure," his manager Lou Robin said in a statement.
He had been released from the hospital on Tuesday after three weeks of
treatment for pancreatitis.
Cash's wife, June Carter Cash, died only in May at the age of 73 and
Nashville, the capital of country music, was plunged into mourning as
tributes poured in.
Tributes poured in for the "Man in Black," singer of Folsom Prison Blues, I
Walk the Line, Ring of Fire, A Boy Named Sue and a host of other worldwide
President George W Bush called Cash "a music legend and an American icon
whose career spanned decades and genres.
"His resonant voice and human compassion reached the hearts and souls of
generations, and he will be missed," Bush said in a statement, adding that
his wife, Laura "joins me in sending our thoughts and prayers to his
For blues legend Ray Charles, "The passing today of my old friend, Johnny
Cash, makes me very sad.
"When I went to Nashville 40 years ago to record my first country song,
Johnny was a very welcoming figure and became a lifelong friend," said
Charles. "He made a giant contribution to music ... I will miss him dearly."
"Johnny Cash has always seemed larger than life to me," said Kris
Kristofferson, who sang with Cash in the Highwaymen, a loosely structured
foursome that included Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.
The four came together to produce three albums between 1985 and 1995.
"He is a true American hero, beloved the world over as much for his kindness
and compassion and championing of the underdog as for the power of his art,"
"And he was damned funny, even in the darkest times."
"There's never been a voice that had that kind of power, that kind of
voice-of-God kind of quality to it," said leading country singer Emmylou
"It's probably one of the most recognizable sounds, certainly in this
country, and probably around the world," she added.
Robert Oermann, a Nashville-based country music historian, called Cash's
death "a terrible loss to the country music community."
"He cut across ages and music genres. It would be impossible to overstate
what a giant he was. He was a champion for the downtrodden, the underdog,
the left-behind," Oermann said.
Cash's manager said the prolific singer had been working on an album written
after his wife's death, but was overcome by mounting health problems
including a disease of the nervous system and pneumonia.
Illness also forced him to miss last month's MTV Video Music Awards, at
which he had been nominated in seven categories. He won best cinematography
for his video, Hurt, a version of a song by the rock group Nine Inch Nails.
He won 11 Grammys, including one this year for Give My Love To Rose, which
earned him the best male country vocal award.
Cash was the first performer to be elected to both the Country Music Hall of
Fame (in 1980) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in 1992). He was also
inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
He had a multitude of international hits, including I Walk the Line, Five
Feet High and Rising, Don't Take Your Guns to Town, Big River and Get
Bob Dylan called Cash one of his biggest influences and the two recorded the
duet, Girl from the North Country.
Born the son of a poor Arkansas share-cropper at the height of the Great
Depression in 1932, Cash began writing songs at the age of 12.
Everything changed in 1955, when he signed for Sam Phillips's legendary Sun
label alongside Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.
He soon left, but in more than 1,500 songs he stayed loyal to his core
topics of American life: coal miners, share-croppers, railroad men, blue
collar workers, Native Americans, prisoners, cowboys and family men.
Like other music legends, Cash battled drug addiction, alcoholism and
brushes with the law.
One of his biggest songs was Folsom Prison Blues, inspired by a documentary
about prisons, which contains the chilling line "I shot a man in Reno, just
to watch him die."
He gave regular prison concerts, and a 1969 concert at San Quentin in
California produced one of his biggest-selling albums, which featured A Boy
In 1970, Cash had his own television show, performed for President Richard
Nixon at the White House, acted with Kirk Douglas in the film, The Gunfight
and sang with John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra.
September 12, 2003
by the Cash family
THE FAMILY OF JOHNNY CASH IN THIS SAD
HOUR IS GREATLY COMFORTED BY THE OUTPOURING OF LOVE AND RESPECT FOR HIS
REMARKABLE LIFE. WE TAKE SOLACE IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT HE IS AGAIN REUNITED
WITH HIS DEAREST COMPANION, JUNE. OUR LIVES, AND INDEED THE ENTIRE PLANET,
WILL FOREVER FEEL THE EMPTINESS OF HIS LOSS, BUT HIS MUSIC AND THE GREATNESS
OF HIS SPIRIT WILL ENDURE.
Date: Friday, September 12, 2003 at 17:40:19 (MDT)
Singer / Songwriter
He has recorded more than 1,500 songs and they can be found on about 500
albums, counting only American and European releases.
More of his albums (45) remain in print today than most artists ever make.
He is the youngest person ever chosen for the Country Music Hall of Fame
and the only person ever selected for the Country and Rock Music Hall of
Fame, until 1998, when Elvis Presley was inducted into the Country
Music Hall of Fame.
He has placed 48 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop charts, about the
same number as the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys.
He has tallied more Pop hit singles than Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson
(including his Jackson 5 hits), the Four Seasons, David Bowie, the
Supremes, Elton John, Billy Joel, Kenny Rogers, the combined totals of Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel, Martin Gaye, B.B. King, Roy
Orbison, Kool & the Gang, Linda Ronstadt. Diana Ross, the combined total
of all of the Osmond Family, Jerry Lee Lewis and the combined total of
Lionel Richie and the Commodores.
He has won 11 Grammys, the most recent include the 1999 Lifetime
Achievement Award and the 2002 shared Grammy for Best Country Album. Two
of his Grammys came for writing liner notes, for his At Folsom Prison
album and Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline record.
Cash's 1987 Grammy came through his participation in The Class Of '55
recordings with the late Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.
The project represented a rebirth of "The Million Dollar Quartet"
recordings featuring Cash, Perkins, Lewis and the late Elvis Presley and,
interestingly enough, it predated Orbison's participation in The Traveling
He has had chart success as a solo artist, as part of a duet, as the
leader of a trio, and as a part of the award-winning Highwayman quartet.
Long before the term "concept album" was coined, Cash created such
thematically unified albums Ride This Train (1960), Blood,
Sweat, & Tears (1963), Bitter Tears (1964). and Johnny
Cash Sings Ballads Of The True West (1965).
People forget just how hot Johnny Cash was, when his sales career was at
its zenith. In the fall of 1969, Johnny Cash was the hottest act in the
world, selling around 250,000 albums per month of his Folsom Prison
and San Quentin albums. At that time, he was even outselling the
As Rich Kinezie observed it Country Music magazine 10 years ago,
Cash "strengthened the bonds between folk and country music so that both
sides saw their similarities as well as their differences. He helped to
liberalize Nashville so that it could accept the unconventional and the
controversial and he did as much as anyone to make the 'outlaw' phenomenon
As host of The Johnny Cash Show on ABC-TV (1969-1971), he served
up 60 hours of prime-time TV, which featured performers like Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Linda Ronstadt, Ray Charles, Neil Young, James Taylor, Neil
Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Kenny Rogers, Roy Orbison, Hank
Williams Jr., Dennis Hopper, Judy Collins, Charley Pride, the Oak Ridge
Boys, Patti Page and Merle Haggard, most rarely seen on TV back then.
His 1975 autobiography Man in Black has so far sold around 1.5
million copies, about 300,000 in hardcover.
He is one of the very few people in the history of music to sell more than
50 million records.
He has placed at least two singles on the Country charts for 38
consecutive years, including an amazing 25 hits between 1958 and 1960.
He produced and co-scripted a movie about the life of Jesus, Gospel
Road, and filmed it in Israel. The film was distributed by Billy
Graham's organization and is still in great demand today.
He has starred in four additional theatrical films including one of the
last great westerns, A Gunfight, with Kirk Douglas. In addition,
he has been a featured star in seven TV movies including The Pride Of
Jessee Hallam, a hard-hitting, poignant story of one man's struggle
against illiteracy. The show has proven to be a valuable tool in the
battle against illiteracy.
He has posted over 130 hits on the Billboard Country singles chart, more
than anyone in history, except George Jones. (Discounting duets by both
men, Cash's total exceeds Jones.)
He has won over two dozen songwriting awards from BMI; two of his songs,
Folsom Prison Blues and I Walk The Line have earned
million-performance citations from BMI.
Over a hundred acts have recorded Cash's I Walk The Line.
He has toured extensively for 38 years on a scope far beyond the normal
tour bus routine of U.S. honky-tonks, state fairs, and showrooms. Hundreds
of thousands of fans in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and throughout
Europe have seen The Johnny Cash Show. He has toured in Vietnam
and throughout the United States. He has appeared in concert in
many Eastern European nations such as Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
He has fathered four daughters (Rosanne, Tara, Cindy and Kathy) and a son
(John Carter), all of whom have performed with him at one time or another.
In addition, Rosanne has become one of our country music's top
Cash's influence on younger musicians in the Rock/Pop field is as strong as
it was in the 60's... A group of European musicians last year released Til
Things Get Brighter, an album 100% composed of Johnny Cash covers by such
acts as Michelle Shocked and Marc Almond. In addition, fresh recordings of
Cash classics like I Still Miss Someone and Big River
have recently been made by Stevie Nicks and the Beat Farmers. He is a
featured guest soloist on U-2's album ZOOROPA.
His last three albums earned him Grammy Awards: American Recordings
Best Folk Album 1994 Unchained - Best Country Album 1998 and
Solitary Man - Best Country Male Vocal Performance 2000. Cash received
the most coveted of Grammy award for Lifetime Achievement in 1999.
Cash was honored with a Kennedy Center Award in December of 1996.
country music stations refusing to play his newer music, Cash and American
Recordings were honored with Country Music Television-Europe's #7 Video of
the Year for Rusty Cage, and Playboy Magazine honored Cash
with the 1998 Music Poll Winner "Hall of Fame" Award.
Source - http://www.johnnycash.com