Johnny Cash was a gravel-voiced singer whose appeal really did stretch across generations. At Britain’s Glastonbury Festival in 1994 his rapturous reception, by an audience who consisted of a large proportion of teenagers, merely confirmed Johnny Cash as an icon for all ages.
Born on February 26th, 1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas, Johnny Cash is mostly remembered for being a country singer, but like most of the great music artists, from Ella Fitzgerald to Frank Sinatra, to Elvis Presley to the Beatles, genre gets forgotten. The true music greats tend to cover a wide spectrum of music. Cash’s music ranged from rock and roll, rockabilly, gospel, blues, and folk.
Cool before the Word Became Overused
Cash was a respected singer, songwriter and guitarist, and was cool before the word became an overused adjective by successive generations of teenagers. Cash’s most well-known recordings included A Boy Named Sue, Ring of Fire, I Walk the Line, Folsom Prison Blues, Jackson (with June Carter), and, late in life, his haunting recording of Hurt, originally recorded by industrial rockgroup Nine Inch Nails. Johnny really got a second wind in his 70s, recording songs by artists such as the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, U2, Sting, the Eagles, and also covering British electronic rock group Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus.
Johnny Cash grew up being known as JR, and was married twice. Cash married Vivian Liberto in 1954, and the couple had four daughters, including Rosanne, who went on to become a famous singer in her own right. Cash’s second wife, June Carter, was also a notable singer. A famous marriage in music circles, Johnny Cash married June on March 1st, 1968, after proposing to her on stage in London, Ontario. They had one child – John Carter Cash.
In the 1950s, Johnny Cash had Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins as stablemates at Sun Records, and met up with Bob Dylan at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival. The two became neighbors and good friends.
A Rock Star’s Persona
One of music’s most famous photographs is of Johnny Cash giving the camera ‘the finger’, and he was always an antidote to some of the more anodyne types of country music. Indeed, Cash’s persona seemed more in keeping with an anti-establishment rock star. A religious man, Johnny Cash regarded himself as a sinner and he tried pretty much every drug, but few castigated him – as his humility endeared him to people. Cash famously recounted that he gave up drugs during a spiritual awakening in a cave in 1968.
Johnny Cash believed for a time that he had Native American ancestry, though this later proved not to be the case. He did, however, find that he had royal Scottish ancestry, and he continued to support the rights of Native Americans.
In his later years, Johnny Cash suffered from ill health and had severe pneumonia. Johnny Cash died in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 12th, 2003. He was 71, and died just four months after his wife June. Cash wrote more than a thousand songs, and he won a Grammy with June Carter for their recording of Jackson, which was one of many awards and honors which Cash received in his career. He had the curious distinction of being inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. But that was the rarity that was Johnny.
Johnny Cash Biography – Yahoo! Music
Fellow Folks: Johnny Cash (Page 1 of 2)