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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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In addition, he wrote the scores for the feature Little Fauss and Big Halsy (1970) and the TV movie The Pride of Jesse Hallam (1980). In 1975, he published a bestselling autobiography Man in Black.
For the rest of the 1970s and through the 1980s and the early 1990s, while not producing the frequent run of hits that he once had, Cash continued to maintain a busy schedule. In 1980,
Cash was accepted as the youngest member of the Country Music Association Hall of Fame.
Increasingly, Cash also teamed up with other musicians. In 1987, Cash banded with former Sun Records' artists Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison to record the widely popular compilation The Class Of '55. For the album The Highwayman (1985), Cash collaborated with Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings. Billed as the Highwaymen, the quartet consistently toured throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, releasing two more records, The Highwayman 2 (1990) and The Road Goes on Forever (1995). In the early part of the 1990s, Cash stepped into the studio with U2 to record The Wanderer, a track that would appear on the group's 1993 release, Zooropa.
Throughout this time, though, Cash's health problems and his continued battles with addiction, were nearby. In 1983, he underwent abdominal surgery in Nashville to correct the problems caused by his years of amphetamine use. Following the operation, he checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic. In 1987, Cash again went under the knife, this time for heart surgery following his collapse on tour in Iowa.
But like always Cash pushed on. Not long after his induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, the singer took the stage for the Lollapalooza alternative rock tour and then teamed up with music producer Rick Rubin. The latter move proved to be instrumental in forging a Johnny Cash renaissance.
Under Rubin, Cash released American Recordings in 1994, a 13-track acoustic album that mixed traditional ballads with modern compositions. The album earned Cash a new audience and a 1995 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Cash's next compilation was a three-disc set appropriately titled Love, God, Murder (2000).
In 2002 Cash released American IV: The Man Comes Around, a mix of originals and covers including songs from Beatles to Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The album, recorded in cabin on the singer's Nashville estate, was the fourth Cash-Rubin compilation. More significantly, it came five years after the singer had announced he'd been diagnosed with a rare nervous-system disorder called Shy-Drager Syndrome.
Over the next year, Cash's health continued to decline. He rarely made public appearances. Then in May 2003, June Carter died. Cash, though, continued to work. With Rubin at his side, the singer sat down to record what would be known as American V: A Hundred Highways. Just week before his death on September 12, 2003, from complications associated with diabetes, Cash wrapped up his final track. "Once June passed, he had the will to live long enough to record, but that was pretty much all," Rubin recalled around the album's release on July 4, 2004. "A day after June passed, he said, 'I need to have something to do every day.
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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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