- NAME: Johnny Cash
- OCCUPATION: Songwriter, Guitarist, Singer
- BIRTH DATE: February 26, 1932
- DEATH DATE: September 12, 2003
- Did You Know?: Johnny Cash stated that he never performed without wearing black, as he thought wearing black brought him good luck because he wore a black T-shirt and jeans to his first gig ever.
- Did You Know?: While in the Air Force, Johnny Cash learned to translate Russian morse code.
- Did You Know?: Johnny Cash bought Johnny Carson's house in Encino after Carson moved to New York and began hosting The Tonight Show.
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Kingsland, Arkansas
- PLACE OF DEATH: Nashville, Tennessee
- Full Name: John R. Cash
- AKA: Johnny Cash
- Nickname: "The Man in Black"
Best Known For
Johnny Cash, the Man in Black, was a singer, guitarist and songwriter whose music innovatively mixed country, rock, blues and gospel influences.
Johnny Cash - Hurt (3:32)
Watch a short video about Johnny Cash and find out the highlights and low lights of the career of this rock, gospel and country legend.
As Johnny Cash entered the final days of his life, he covered "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails, and it became one of his most successful and heartbreaking recordings of all time.
After years of presenting himself as the Patriot, Rick Rubin returned Johnny Cash to his darker side in order to expose him to new audiences.
Johnny Cash wrote one of his most well-known songs, "The Man in Black" to explain just why he always dresses in black.
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While met with mediocre reviews, Cash's second release, "Cry, Cry, Cry" later that year peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard charts. Other hits soon followed, including a pair of Top 10 singles in "So Doggone Lonesome" and "Folsom Prison Blues." But true fame arrived in 1956, when Cash wrote and released "I Walk The Line,
" which catapulted to No. 1 and sold 2 million copies.
The success and his association with Phillips allowed Cash to join an elite group of artists that included Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis—they were known as "The Million Dollar Quartet." In 1957 Cash, now the father of two young daughters (Roseanne and Kathy) released his debut album, Johnny Cash with His Hot & Blue Guitar.
By the early 1960s, Johnny Cash, who had relocated his family to Ventura, California, and left Sun for Columbia Records in 1958, was a musical superstar. With an unrelenting tour schedule, Cash was on the road 300 nights a year, barnstorming the country with a barrage of popular hits including Ring of Fire (1963) and Understand Your Man (1964). He also appeared regularly on the Louisiana Hayride and Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts.
But the schedule and the pressures that faced him took a toll on his personal life. Drugs and alcohol were frequent tour companions while Vivian, left home to take care of their young family, which now included Cindy (b. 1959) and Tara (b. 1961) grew increasingly frustrated with her husband's absence.
In 1966 Vivian finally filed for divorce. Cash returned to Memphis, where his life continued to spiral out of control. The following year, after a serious drug binge, Cash was discovered in a near-death state by a policeman in a small village in Georgia. There were other incidents, too, including an arrest for smuggling amphetamines into the US across the Mexican border, and accidently starting a forest fire in Tennessee, which resulted in a near six-figure fine for the singer. "I took all the drugs there are to take, and I drank," Cash recalled. "Everybody said that Johnny Cash was through 'cause I was walkin' around town 150 pounds. I looked like walking death."
The turning point came in 1967, when he met singer-songwriter June Carter, a member of the founding family of country music. Carter, who first befriended and then, in 1968, married Cash, stepped in and helped him clean up his life. With Carter's support, Cash kicked his drug habit and became a devout Christian fundamentalist.
With his new wife, Cash embarked on a remarkable turn around. In 1969, he began hosting The Johnny Cash Show, a TV variety series that showcased contemporary musicians ranging from Bob Dylan to Louis Armstrong. It also provided a forum for Cash to explore a number of social issues, too, tackling discussions that ranged from the war in Vietnam to prison reform to the rights of Native Americans.
The same year his show debuted, Cash also took home two Grammy Awards for the live album Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (1968). The album was a critical and commercial success and reached Gold record status by December 1969. Four months later Cash and Carter celebrated the birth of their first and only child, John Carter Cash, in March 1970.
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When it comes to singing about struggle and emotion, there are few genres that match the intensity of country music. Country music was born from musicians that were brave enough to wear their hearts on their sleeves from happiness to heartache. Because of country icons like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Jimmie Rodgers, this southern, soulful genre has grown to become loved by many. Browse through the legends that established country music as the popular genre that it is today.
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