Johnny Cash

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Johnny Cash (1969)

Johnny Cash (* 26. February 1932 in Kingsland , Arkansas as JR Cash, † 12. September 2003 in Nashville , Tennessee ) was one of the most influential American country - singer and songwriter . He has also appeared as an actor in a number of films and television series .

Cash is known for his distinctive bass-baritone voice and the so-called "boom-chicka-boom" sound of his backing band Tennessee Three as well as his critical and unconventional lyrics. His musical spectrum ranges from the 1950s with country , gospel , rockabilly , blues , folk and pop to alternative country at the beginning of the 21st century. His concerts in the Folsom and San Quentin prisons in the late 1960s are legendary . Johnny Cash, nicknamed "Man in Black," wrote about 500 songs, sold more than 50 million records and received 13 Grammy Awards .


First years

The house in Dyess where Johnny Cash grew up
Johnny Cash (1955)

JR Cash was the fourth of seven children of the poor farmer Raymond Cash (May 13, 1897, Kingsland , Arkansas - December 23, 1985, Hendersonville , Tennessee ) and his wife Carrie Rivers Cash (March 13, 1904, Rison , Arkansas - 11. March 1991, Hendersonville, Tennessee). His first name is actually "J. R. ”and was a compromise between the mother's preferred“ John ”and“ Ray ”after the father.

Three years after his birth, the family moved to a farm in Dyess , Arkansas that had been donated to the family cheaply under the New Deal under President Franklin D. Roosevelt . The house near the Tyronza River , where Cash lived until he graduated from high school , was twice damaged by floods, a reference to which his later song Five Feet High and Rising refers. As of May 2018, this house has been an officially registered historic site in the United States.

Cash was already working in the cotton fields at the age of five . He had six siblings: Roy, Louise, Jack, Reba, Joanne and Tommy . His brother Jack, two years older than him, died in May 1944 at the age of 14 in an accident with a circular saw.

Johnny Cash's mother gave him his first guitar when he was ten, and he also received some singing lessons during that time. In May 1950, Cash made his first solo appearance as a singer on the occasion of his graduation from high school. After graduating from high school, he first worked on the assembly line of the Fisher automobile plants in Pontiac , Michigan and in a margarine factory in Texas .

In 1950 Cash went to the US Air Force , where he changed his first name to "John R." because the military did not accept initials as first names. From October 1951 he was deployed to the 12th Radio Squadron Mobile (RSM) of the United States Air Force Security Service (USAFSS) at Landsberg / Lech Air Base and listened to Morse code from Soviet radio traffic on a listening station . In Landsberg he bought a guitar for 20 DM in the Musikhaus Ballach and began to perform on the stage with it. Here Cash, who played harmonica in addition to guitar , founded his first band, the Landsberg Barbarians, an allusion to the newspaper "The Landsberg Bavarian", which was published in Landsberg. After he had seen the film Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison on October 13, 1951 in the "Amerikino" in the barracks , he also wrote the Folsom Prison Blues here . He regularly appeared as a singer in charity events of the US armed forces, mostly for the benefit of needy German children. He made his first appearance on February 1, 1952.

After completing his military service as Staff Sergeant in West Germany in June 1954, Cash moved to Memphis , Tennessee, and married Vivian Liberto, two years younger than him, whom he met in 1951 in San Antonio . From this marriage come his daughters Rosanne (born 1955), Kathleen (Kathy, born 1956), Cindy (born 1959) and Tara (born 1961).

Career start

During the day Cash worked as a sales representative for electrical appliances, in the evenings he played with the Tennessee Two, the guitarist Luther Perkins and the bassist Marshall Grant (which became the Tennessee Three in 1960 with the drummer WS Holland ) in various clubs in Memphis. Since Cash's band didn't have a drummer at the time, he had a piece of paper tucked behind the strings of the rhythm guitar; this percussive snarling became a typical feature, as was the famous “boom-chicka-boom” sound from Perkins. The name is an onomatopoeic description for the fast, pounding sound similar to that of a moving freight train (Freight train rhythm).

Finally, Cash introduced himself to Sam Phillips , the owner and producer of Sun Records , who signed him. Cash's first single on Sun Records, Hey, Porter / Cry! Cry! Cry! , was released on June 21, 1955 and peaked at number 14 on the US country charts . In August 1955, Cash had his first major opening act for Elvis Presley .

Cash's next release, Folsom Prison Blues with the back So Doggone Lonesome, which appeared in December 1955 already reached # 4 on the country charts. Cash had taken part of the text of the Folsom Prison Blues from Gordon Jenkins' 1954 piece Crescent City Blues ; he was sued for plagiarism and had to pay a $ 75,000 settlement. I Walk the Line with the B-side Get Rhythm from May 1956 finally made it to number 1 on the country charts and also placed in the top 20 of the pop charts .

On December 4, 1956, the well-known "Sun Session" recordings of the so-called " Million Dollar Quartet " with rock 'n' roll greats Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis , who were also under contract with Sun Records, as well as Elvis Presley instead. Cash has not been heard on the recordings that have been released so far, although both Perkins and Cash repeatedly spoke of more than the previously known recordings on which Cash should also be heard.

In 1956, Cash met his future wife, June Carter, of the famous Carter Family , whom he had admired since childhood, backstage on the country radio show Grand Ole Opry in Nashville , which was then recorded in the Ryman Auditorium . It was also at this time that Cash began opening each of his concerts with the words "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash", which became his trademark.

More Achievements

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash , 1969

At the end of the 1950s, Cash's career took off and he was on tour all the time, which put a strain on his marriage to Vivian Liberto. Cash withstood the stress of the concert with difficulty and, according to his own statement, took his first amphetamine tablet during a tour with the musicians Faron Young and Ferlin Husky in 1957 . In the following years, he resorted to alcohol , amphetamines and barbiturates more and more frequently .

In 1958 Cash moved with his family to California and switched to Columbia Records , which made him a lucrative offer. There, in November of the same year, the album The Fabulous Johnny Cash was released , which included the No. 1 hit Don't Take Your Guns to Town . With this album, Cash expanded his musical spectrum to include pop , folk and gospel . In 1958 he also appeared in the NCO Club at the Rhein-Main Air Base in Wiesbaden in West Germany in front of US soldiers and on September 20, 1959 at a festival in Frankfurt am Main .

The album Songs of Our Soil , largely recorded in a single session in March 1959, is in the Americana style . The best-known song from this is Five Feet High and Rising, a song about the Mississippi flood that nearly ripped away the Cash house in Arkansas in the 1930s. In addition to songs in English, Cash also recorded songs in German and Spanish between 1959 and 1965. From December 2 to 11, 1960, he toured West Germany with performances at several US military bases.

On March 25, 1963, Cash recorded the song Ring of Fire , the version of which, underlaid with the distinctive mariachi trumpets, became a world hit. The song was written by Merle Kilgore with June Carter , who describes Cash's addiction and her forbidden love for him. Cash and Carter were both married to other partners at the time, but had long fallen in love, and since 1961 Cash has been accompanied by June Carter and the Carter Family on his tours.

In the early 1960s, some concept albums were released by Cash, including the angry Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian in September 1964 , on which the emergence of the American Indian movement and the increasing outrage about the way US citizens treated the natives of the Down the country. On this album, Cash uses tribal drums and Indian chants, identifies himself with the oppressed and accuses the US presidents of cheating on the Indians. A highlight of the album is The Ballad of Ira Hayes , a hymn to the Indian war hero of the same name, who died a poor alcoholic. With this commercially risky project, Cash established his reputation as a credible artist with the emerging protest movement and the associated subculture.


Cash in front of his house, 1969

Although Cash sold the romantic image of the outlaw to his fans , he was only briefly jailed a few times for minor offenses. On June 27, 1965, he caused a large fire in the Los Padres National Park with a defective exhaust pipe in his mobile home, which destroyed 205 hectares of forest; Cash had to pay $ 82,000 in damages. On October 4, 1965, he was arrested at El Paso , Texas , airport for smuggling over 1,000 amphetamine tablets from Mexico to the United States in his guitar case .

His pill addiction had reached its peak, leading to a divorce from Vivian Liberto, outbreaks of violence on stage and some concert cancellations. Cash lost to 70 kg with a height of 1.87 m, his voice became fragile. In 1967 he shared an apartment for some time with country singer Waylon Jennings , who was also addicted to pills. Then Cash bought a house on Old Hickory Lake in Hendersonville , near Nashville.

In early October 1967, after not eating or sleeping for several days, Cash retired to Nickajack Cave near Chattanooga and lay there to die. He wrote in his autobiography that at some point it became clear to him that he could not determine the time of his death himself. Quote: "I would die if God thought the time was right, and not when I wanted it." June Carter and her parents stood by Cash in his difficult withdrawal that followed and, above all, shielded him from people who were close to him Pills. On November 11, 1967, Cash gave his first sober concert in over ten years at Hendersonville High School.

Legendary concerts

Cash next tried to convince his record company to record a live album in a prison, which initially rejected the plan as unprofitable. Cash finally prevailed and took on January 13, 1968 together with June Carter, Carl Perkins, the Statler Brothers and the Carter Family on the album At Folsom Prison in Folsom State Prison , California , which reached number 1 on the country album charts.

After June Carter long refused to marry him because of Cash's drug and alcohol addiction, she accepted his marriage proposal on February 22, 1968, which he made to her on stage during a concert in Ontario , Canada . They were married on March 1, 1968 in Franklin, Kentucky .

On the second live album from a prison, Cash guitarist Luther Perkins, who died in a house fire in August 1968, was replaced by Bob Wootton , who was to accompany Cash until the end of his life. The success of the Folsom Prison album was surpassed by At San Quentin with the No. 1 single A Boy Named Sue , reaching number one in both the country and pop album charts. This appearance in the San Quentin Penitentiary in California on February 24, 1969 made Cash internationally known. A film recording of the British television station "Granada Television" was initially not broadcast by the major broadcasters because of Cash's socially critical statements.

On December 5, 1969, Cash played in front of 21,000 spectators in sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City . The accompanying live album At Madison Square Garden was only released in 2002. On stage with Cash were again Carl Perkins, the Statler Brothers, the Carter Family and his brother Tommy Cash . June Carter Cash was absent from this gig because she was pregnant. On March 3, 1970, Johnny and June's only child, John Carter Cash , was born.

The Man in Black

Johnny Cash in conversation with Richard Nixon in July 1972
Johnny Cash tour bus

On June 7, 1969, The Johnny Cash Show at the US channel ABC premiere. The television program, recorded in the Ryman Auditorium , was broadcast every Saturday night at prime time. Guests in the first edition included Bob Dylan , whom Cash had been friends with since they were neighbors in New York in the late 1960s, and Joni Mitchell . Cash helped the Statler Brothers careers by hiring them as the show's house band. Other famous guests included Neil Young , The Monkees , Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, as well as many greats from the country scene. Country singer and songwriter Kris Kristofferson also became popular with an appearance on Cash's Show. The show ran successfully until 1971.

In 1970, Cash gave a concert at the White House for then President Richard Nixon . In 1971 Cash played with Kirk Douglas in the western rival of death - Gunfight. In the early 1970s, Cash began to only appear in black clothing, which earned him the nickname "Man in Black". His clothes were in stark contrast to the otherwise usual colorful and kitschy shirts worn by country musicians of the time. In June 1971, Cash released the song Man in Black ; the album of the same name was the eighth and in Cash's lifetime the last number 1 placement of one of his solo albums in the country charts.

Johnny Cash live in Bremen, 1972

From February 28th to March 2nd, 1972 he gave concerts in Frankfurt am Main , Düsseldorf , Munich and Saarbrücken and on the 21st in Bremen as well as on September 30th 1972 for the Beat Club and on December 13th 1972 for the music store . Cash's popularity slowly declined in the mid-1970s, but in 1975 his autobiography Man in Black sold 1.3 million copies.

Cash has also taken on television roles since the early 1960s, for example in 1974 in the episode Schwanengesang in the crime series Columbo and in 1976 in the episode The Man of Heaven in the series Our Little Farm at the side of his wife June. In 1973 the film The Gospel Road, produced by Cash and backed by music, was released by 20th Century Fox. Cash wrote the script with Larry Murray and was directed by Robert Elfstrom, who also played Jesus. Cash's sister Reba, June Carter and Jimmy Snow also starred in the film. The soundtrack was released on Columbia Records and, like the film, flopped at the box office. In 1979 Cash built a log cabin opposite his home in Hendersonville, which was initially intended as a retreat for himself and his wife, but was later used as a studio.

Highwaymen - The 1980s

Cash's car at the Willie Nelson Museum in Nashville
Cash's suit and his guitar in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland

In 1980, Cash received the highest honor in country music. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and, at 48 years of age, was the youngest living artist to receive the honor. From April 7th to 19th, 1980 he gave 10 concerts in West Germany and an appearance in Hanover in the ZDF- produced program Freddy Quinn and his friends .

In June 1980 Cash's album Rockabilly Blues was released, on which he was accompanied in the studio by the new wave musician Nick Lowe , husband of Cash's stepdaughter Carlene Carter . Cash's album Johnny 99 from September 1983 was designed in a similar way , on which Cash sang two cover versions of Bruce Springsteen's recently released album Nebraska with Johnny 99 and Highway Patrol Man . Cash had been taking pills again since the late 1970s, until his family persuaded him to go to the Betty Ford Center , an addiction clinic in California, in December 1983 . After a six-week stay, he was released on January 31, 1984 and did not relapse.

Cash continued to appear on television, for example in the Civil War epic Torches in the Storm that same year in which he played the abolitionist John Brown , or later in the 1990s with his wife June Carter Cash in the western series Dr. Quinn - a passionate doctor with Jane Seymour in the lead role. He was also repeatedly seen on the screen, for example in 1986 as Frank James alongside Kris Kristofferson in the film The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James.

With his rebellious manner and his songs about prisons and gunslingers, Cash was one of the pioneers of the so-called outlaw movement , which rebelled against Nashville's increasingly slippery country-pop productions, since the late 1960s . In May 1985, the movement's most successful comrades-in-arms, Waylon Jennings , Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson , joined forces with their friend and role model, Johnny Cash, to form The Highwaymen . With the album Highwayman and the title song of the same name , Cash reached number 1 on the country charts for the first time in more than 10 years. In 1986 Cash's only novel Man in White was published, which is about Paul of Tarsus and the Damascus experience, the change "from Saul to Paul".

In 1988, Cash had to undergo cardiac bypass surgery. At the same time, his career experienced its decline towards the end of the 1980s, which was also connected with the restructuring of a country music industry based purely on market laws. Old stars like George Jones , Dolly Parton and Cash were no longer in demand , at least in the mainstream . Radio stations and record companies ignored artists who showed little flexibility in terms of audience tastes. With the parody song Chicken in Black , Cash actively worked on dismantling its own legend. His record deal with Columbia Records ran out, followed by a deal with Mercury / PolyGram , but these productions were not commercially successful. Probably the most important album of this time is Water From the Wells of Home from November 1988, on which Cash sings duets with well-known artists such as Linda & Paul McCartney , The Everly Brothers , Emmylou Harris and his children Rosanne and John .

The comeback - American Recordings

Johnny Cash's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

In 1992, Cash was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has remained an icon for many younger rock musicians. The Irish rock band U2 wrote the song The Wanderer for him , which he sang for their 1993 album Zooropa .

In 1994 Rick Rubin , who was actually known as a producer of hip-hop and metal bands such as Run-DMC , the Beastie Boys and Slayer , offered him a recording contract. For the first album together, entitled American Recordings , the two made a lot of experiments. At first, a demo tape was produced in Rubin's living room with only Cash and his acoustic guitar, then Cash worked with various constellations of bands to find out what the “new” Cash sound should sound like. In the end, Cash and Rubin decided on the minimalist version as heard on the original demo tape. They scheduled a concert in the Viper Room in Los Angeles and used the live versions of two songs for the album.

Opened American Recordings with Delia's Gone, a ballad about a murderer who gloomiest in the tradition of Cash's songs. With the accompanying video, in which top model Kate Moss plays the leading role, Cash finally became known to the younger “ MTV audience”. One of the other highlights of the album is Bird on a Wire, a song originally written by Leonard Cohen .

For the second album Unchained in 1996, Cash got back musicians from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers , the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fleetwood Mac . Tom Petty's Southern Accents and the fervently sung Spiritual are the highlights of this album . During the recordings for this album, Cash's health was so bad that he had to take breaks every now and then. He had finally prepared the log cabin that he had built across from his house in the 1970s as a studio cash cabin so that he could work on the recordings undisturbed without having to drive far. Many songs in the American Recordings series were recorded here, and his son John was involved in these recordings as co-producer and second sound engineer. Cash preferred to play with a Martin D-35 Custom. In 1997 the company dedicated two signature models to him , the "Johnny Cash D-42JC" and the "D-35 Johnny Cash". Cash also rarely played on Guild and Gibson guitars . From April 7 to May 3, 1997 he gave several concerts in Europe, including six in Germany, two in Austria and one in Switzerland, and from July 18 to 31, 1997, including four in Germany.

On the album American III: Solitary Man , which was released in October 2000, Cash's otherwise solid baritone first sounds brittle; this is particularly noticeable in Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down. One of the most unusual tracks on this album for Cash is Nick Caves The Mercy Seat, the monologue of a prisoner waiting on death row and, according to Cash, one of his favorite songs. There were many rumors surrounding the scar on Cash's right cheek, until he was a guest on Larry King's talk show in November 2002 and declared: "I had a cyst removed when I was in the Air Force, that is all." I was in the Air Force, had a cyst removed, that's all. ")

With Cash's last album released during his lifetime, American IV: The Man Comes Around from November 2002, he achieved another great success with 2nd place in the country charts. Cash's singing here is fragile and reserved. You can tell he is seriously ill, but the brokenness of his voice fits the tone of the album, which is mostly about love, death and the life after. With the title song The Man Comes Around Cash made it clear that he was still at the height of his creative power as a songwriter. The video of the nine-inch-nails cover song Hurt won the MTV Video Music Award and a Grammy . The last song on the album, We'll Meet Again, was supported vocally and instrumentally by the entire "cash gang" including the staff. Cash's last four albums in the American Recordings series also gained widespread recognition outside of the country scene.


In October 1997, while performing in Flint, Michigan , Cash nearly passed out while trying to pick up an opening pick . The subsequent investigation initially revealed the suspicion that Cash was suffering from Parkinson's disease . It was a long time before doctors finally found out what Cash was actually suffering from. In early 1999 he was diagnosed with Shy-Drager syndrome , a Parkinson's-like disease that has no cure. A little later, Cash was told that he did not suffer from Shy-Drager syndrome, but from autonomic neuropathy , a disease of the nervous system, probably due to diabetes . Cash later stated that he knew he did not have an illness that would weaken him mentally. Cash was battling the disease, and in the spring of 1999 he told USA Today that he had resolved to forget the name of the disease and not give it a place in his life. He wants to think positively and not believe that one day he will be disabled.

On April 6, 1999, the concert An All Star Tribute to Johnny Cash was recorded in his honor in the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan , New York City , at which many world stars sang his songs. It was broadcast on April 18, 1999 on the American television station TNT . Cash also appeared, severely weakened and to the amazement and delight of the audience. It was his last appearance on a big stage, after which he only played in the Carter Family Fold, a non-profit organization of the Carter family for the preservation of traditional music in Bristol , Virginia .

Cash had to be hospitalized several times with pneumonia . In October 2001 he became so ill that the doctors had to ventilate him for a week . Cash also suffered from constant shortness of breath from severe asthma , and his eyesight was severely impaired from glaucoma .

Death of June and Johnny Cash

The grave of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash

On May 15, 2003, Cash's wife June Carter Cash died at the age of 73 from complications from a heart valve operation. The couple was married for 35 years. Cash was already in a wheelchair at her funeral. Ten days after her death, Cash said he had to go back to the studio and continue working: “I want to make music and work as best I can. She would want to, and so do I. ”Cash made his last public appearance on July 5, 2003 at a concert at the Carter Family Fold. The last piece of music that Cash recorded three weeks before his death is the Traditional Engine 143. It was released in 2004 on the tribute CD The Unbroken Circle - The Musical Heritage of the Carter Family .

On September 11, 2003, Rick Rubin called Cash for the last time to let him know that he would be sending him mixes for the CD box Unearthed . Cash could no longer listen to it; he died of lung failure the next day, September 12, 2003, at the age of 71 in the Baptist Hospital in Nashville. Johnny Cash was buried next to his wife in Hendersonville Memory Gardens Cemetery, near his home in Hendersonville , Tennessee .

After Cash's death

On December 16, 2003, a 5-CD box entitled Unearthed was released , containing over 60 unreleased songs from the American Recordings sessions , including reinterpretations of classics such as Cat Stevens ' Father & Son and Heart of Gold by Neil Young . The recordings also include duets with great musicians Joe Strummer , Tom Petty and rock'n'roll veteran Carl Perkins. Also in 2003, Emmylou Harris remembered the love between Cash and Carter and their friendship with them with the song Strong Hand (Just One Miracle) on her album Stumble Into Grace .

After Cash's death, hundreds of tapes were found in an office behind the recording studios. He had marked some of them as personal files ; they were countless private solo recordings from the 1970s and 1980s. 49 of these songs were released on May 26, 2006 as a double CD entitled Personal File - Homerecordings for the first time. The album contains a collection of tracks that range from classic folk and gospel interpretations to Cash's personal favorite songs and even his own songs.

On 4 July 2006 was released by Lost Highway Records with A Hundred Highways: American V , the fifth album by the American Recordings series. It again contains Cash interpretations of well-known songs such as Gordon Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind or Don Gibson's A Legend in My Time, but also own songs such as the last song written by Cash Like the 309. The album was awarded gold and reached number 1 in the American country albums charts - his last solo album to succeed was Man in Black from 1971.

A tribute video for Cash's song God's Gonna Cut You Down was released in December 2006, in which many of his friends and music colleagues such as Brian Wilson , Bono , Keith Richards , Kanye West , Johnny Depp , Justin Timberlake , Dennis Hopper , Anthony Kiedis or Kris Kristofferson occurred. 2010 saw more songs that had been recorded at the same time as A Hundred Highways , as the last part of the American Recordings series under the title American VI: Ain't No Grave .

As announced by his son John Carter Cash in late 2013, the album Out Among the Stars with twelve previously unreleased songs was released in 2014, eleven years after Johnny Cash's death . The songs, discovered in 2012 on tapes in the vaults, were recorded in 1981 in Columbia Studios in Nashville and in 1984 in 1111 Sound Studios in Los Angeles by his record company Columbia, which parted ways with Cash shortly afterwards.

At the beginning of 2016, one of fourteen newly discovered spider species from the southwest of the USA was given the name Aphonopelma johnnycashi in honor of the singer . As the head of the research group at Auburn University in Alabama , Chris Hamilton, explained, the spider was given the name because of its black appearance and its proximity to Folsom State Prison in the US state of California .

Cash Cabin Studio and Old Hickory Lake House

John Carter Cash has taken over his father's recording studio, added a second room and opened the Cash Cabin Studio on Caudill Drive to other artists. Dating back to the video clip for Hurt known opposite house on Old Hickory Lake, 35 years lived in the cash with his wife long, was in January 2006 by singer Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees bought for 2.3 million dollars, which it renovated extensively to be able to use it later as a holiday home. On April 10, 2007, the house burned down completely during renovation work. The cause of the fire is unclear. The fire was able to spread so quickly because of a recently applied, easily flammable wood preservative that the property could not be saved from the flames in time by the fire brigade.

Biographical film

In 2005, James Mangold directed a biography of Johnny Cash entitled Walk the Line . The film covers the years 1944 to 1968, from the death of Cash's brother Jack to the proposal of marriage to June Carter in front of an audience. The leading roles are played by Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. The film won three Golden Globes in 2006 and was nominated for five Academy Awards; Reese Witherspoon received the Oscar for "Best Actress".

Cash and Faith

Cash was a Baptist , appeared as a devout Christian and was perceived as such by the public, especially during his marriage to June Carter. His deep faith was due not only to his parents and their upbringing, but also to the influence of his older brother Jack, who wanted to be a pastor. Cash was close friends with the Baptist pastor Billy Graham , who can be heard on the song The Preacher Said, "Jesus Said" . Pastor Jimmy Snow was also one of Cash's close circle of friends.

One of the first songs Cash wrote was Belshazzar, which tells a story from the Bible . Cash left Sun Records, among other things, because Sam Phillips did not want him to record gospel songs because he thought such records were not marketable. At Columbia, Cash had been promised to be able to produce gospel albums, which Cash then did several times; so his second Columbia album Hymns by Johnny Cash was a pure gospel album.

In 1969 Cash recorded The Holy Land . It consisted not only of songs but also of spoken texts. It was the only gospel album on which Cash used such lyrics, although before and later he often combined songs with such lyrics, usually on concept albums like Ride This Train or America from 1960 and 1972. During his time with American Recordings Cash also recorded many spiritual and gospel songs. One of the last pieces he wrote ( The Man Comes Around ) is about the Last Judgment and the return of Jesus .



Cash reached number 1 on the American country charts with 13 singles ; the first was I Walk the Line in 1956 , and the last was One Piece at a Time in 1976 . Many of his singles have also made it into the American pop charts .

Albums (excerpt)




  • 1970: Johnny Cash: The Legend
  • 1970: Sunday Down South
  • 1970: Showtime
  • 1970: Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
  • 1970: The Singing Storyteller
  • 1970: Johnny Cash Sings I Walk the Line
  • 1970: The Rough Cut King of Country Music
  • 1970: The Johnny Cash Show
  • 1971: I Walk the Line - Movie Soundtrack
  • 1971: Little Fauss and Big Halsy - Movie Soundtrack
  • 1971: Man in Black
  • 1971: Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music
  • 1971: The Johnny Cash Collection: Greatest Hits Volume II
  • 1971: Understand Your Man
  • 1971: Original Golden Hits, Volume III
  • 1972: A Thing Called Love
  • 1972: Give My Love to Rose
  • 1972: America - A 200-Year Salute in Story And Song
  • 1972: The Johnny Cash Songbook
  • 1972: Christmas: The Johnny Cash Family
  • 1973: Any Old Wind That Blows
  • 1973: The Gospel Road
  • 1973: Now, There Was a Song
  • 1973: The Fabulous Johnny Cash
  • 1973: Johnny Cash and His Woman
  • 1973: Sunday Morning Coming Down
  • 1973: Ballads of the American Indian
  • 1973: På Österåker
  • 1974: Ragged Old Flag
  • 1974: Five Feet High and Rising
  • 1974: The Junkie and the Juicehead Minus Me
  • 1975: Johnny Cash Sings Precious Memories
  • 1975: The Children's Album
  • 1975: John R. Cash
  • 1975: Ridin 'the Rails
  • 1975: Welcome to Europe
  • 1975: Look at Them Beans
  • 1976: Strawberry Cake
  • 1976: One Piece at a Time
  • 1976: Destination Victoria Station
  • 1977: The Last Gunfighter Ballad
  • 1977: The Rambler
  • 1978: 20 Foot Tappin Greats
  • 1978: I Would Like to See You Again
  • 1978: Greatest Hits, Volume III
  • 1979: Gone Girl
  • 1979: Silver


  • 1980: A Believer Sings the Truth
  • 1980: Rockabilly Blues
  • 1980: Classic Christmas
  • 1981: The Baron
  • 1981: Encore
  • 1982: The Survivors
  • 1982: A Believer Sings the Truth, Volume I.
  • 1982: The Adventures of Johnny Cash
  • 1983: Johnny Cash - Biggest Hits
  • 1983: Johnny 99
  • 1983: In Prague LIVE
  • 1983: Songs of Love and Life
  • 1984: I Believe
  • 1985: Highwayman
  • 1985: Rainbow
  • 1986: Class of '55 : Cash, Perkins, Orbison & Lewis
  • 1986: Heroes: Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings
  • 1986: Believe in Him
  • 1987: Johnny Cash is Coming to Town
  • 1988: Water From the Wells of Home


  • 1990: Boom Chicka Boom
  • 1990: Highwayman 2
  • 1991: The Mystery of Life
  • 1991: Country Christmas
  • 1994: Wanted Man
  • 1994: American Recordings
  • 1995: Highwaymen: The Road Goes On Forever
  • 1996: Unchained
  • 1998: VH1 Storytellers: Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson (live)

Since 2000

Filmography (selection)

Cash's most important awards

year Org. Award title
1968 CMA Album of the Year "Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison"
1968 grammy Best Country & Western Performance, Duo "Jackson" (with June Carter )
1969 CMA Album of the Year "Johnny Cash at San Quentin Prison"
1969 CMA Entertainer of the Year  
1969 CMA Male Vocalist of the Year  
1969 CMA Single of the year "A Boy Named Sue"
1969 CMA Vocal Group of the Year with June Carter
1969 grammy Best Male Country Vocal Performance "Folsom Prison Blues"
1969 grammy Best album notes "Folsom Prison Blues"
1970 grammy Best Male Country Vocal Performance "A Boy Named Sue"
1970 grammy Best album notes "Nashville Skyline" by Bob Dylan
1971 grammy Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group "If I Were a Carpenter"
1985 ACM Single of the year " Highwayman "
1987 grammy Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Recording "Interviews from the Class of '55 Recording Sessions" (Together with Jerry Lee Lewis , Chips Moman , Ricky Nelson , Roy Orbison , Carl Perkins & Sam Phillips )
1995 grammy Best Contemporary Folk Album "American Recordings"
1998 grammy Best Country Album "Unchained"
1999 grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Award for Cash's life's work
2001 grammy Best Male Country Vocal Performance "Solitary Man"
2003 CMA Album of the Year "American IV: The Man Comes Around"
2003 CMA Music Video of the Year "Hurt"
2003 CMA Single of the year "Hurt"
2003 grammy Best Male Country Vocal Performance "Give My Love to Rose"
2004 grammy Best Short Form Music Video "Hurt"

The Rolling Stone listed Cash 31st of the 100 greatest musicians, 21st of the 100 best singers and 43th of the 100 best songwriters of all time . I Walk the Line, Folsom Prison Blues and Ring of Fire are on the list of the 500 best songs of all time .

Cash was inducted into the following Halls of Fame :

1977 Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
1980 Country Music Hall of Fame
1992 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
2011 Gospel Music Hall of Fame

Literature and Sources

  • Johnny Cash: Man in Black: His Own Story in His Own Words . Zondervan, 1975, ISBN 99924-31-58-X .
  • Johnny Cash: Man in White . Harper & Row, 1986, ISBN 0-06-250132-1 .
  • Johnny Cash, Patrick Carr: Cash. The autobiography of Johnny Cash. Edel, Hamburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-8419-0143-9 . (With numerous b / w photos; first publication in Germany: Palmyra Verlag, Heidelberg 1999)
  • Johnny Cash: The man in black , a relentless autobiography, Schulte + Gerth Asslar publishing house, 1981, 2nd edition, ISBN 3-87739-595-3
  • John Carter Cash: My Father Johnny Cash: the biography with unpublished photographs and lyrics. Knesebeck, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-86873-397-6 .
  • Franz Dobler : The Beast in me. Johnny Cash. Kunstmann, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-88897-302-3 .
  • Jason Fine (Ed.): Cash. Heyne, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-453-12019-1 .
  • Walter Fuchs : Johnny Cash. Pabel-Moewig, Rastatt 1989, ISBN 3-8118-3416-9 .
  • Robert Hilburn : "Johnny Cash". The biography. From the English Henning Dedekind, Werner Roller. Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2016 (2013)
  • Reimer Hinrichs: In search of Johnny Cash: a biography. LIT, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8258-7360-9 .
  • Peter K. Hogan: Johnny Cash. The indispensable manual. Story and songs compact. Bosworth & Co. Musikverlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-86543-290-2 .
  • John Huss and David Werther: The Philosophy at Johnny Cash. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim 2009, ISBN 978-3-527-50401-5 .
  • Reinhard Kleist : Cash - I See a Darkness, comic biography, Carlsen-Verlag, 2006, ISBN 3-551-76837-4 .
  • Martin Schäfer: Johnny Cash. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt 2008, ISBN 978-3-518-18231-4 .
  • Michael Streissguth: Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: The Making of a Masterpiece (English). Da Capo Press, 2004, ISBN 0-306-81338-6 .
  • Steve Turner: A man named Cash. St. Johannis Printing House, 2005, ISBN 3-501-01510-0 .
  • Dave Urbanski: The Man Comes Around: The Spiritual Journey of Johnny Cash (English). Relevant Books, 2003, ISBN 0-9729276-7-0 .

Web links

Commons : Johnny Cash  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Martin Schäfer: Johnny Cash, Suhrkamp 2008
  2. Johnny Cash in Dyess
  3. Johnny Cash's childhood home is now an official historic location . In: Musikexpress . May 7, 2018 ( [accessed May 11, 2018]).
  6. ↑ Buying a guitar in Landsberg
  7. ^ Hannes Fricke: Myth guitar: history, interpreters, great hours. Reclam, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-15-020279-1 , p. 34.
  8. For the years with Sun Records see: Escott, Colin / Hawkins, Martin: Good Rockin 'Tonight. Sun Records and the Birth of Rock 'n' Roll. New York City, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991, pp. 94-109
  9. Bruce Jenkins: Goodbye. In Search Of Gordon Jenkins, Berkeley 2005, pp. 280f. (with text comparison table)
  10. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Johnny Cash in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  11. Martin Guitars: Models D-42JC ( Memento of the original from November 8, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. and D-35 Johnny Cash ( Memento of the original from November 8, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. CNN Larry King Live, Interview with Johnny Cash , aired Nov. 26, 2002 (transcript)
  13. ^ Johnny Cash in the Find a Grave database . Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  14. New album by Johnny Cash: A Voice from the Grave - Record review: “Out Among The Stars” ( Memento from March 24, 2014 in the Internet Archive ),
  15. Chris A. Hamilton, Brent E. Hendrixson, Jason E. Bond : Taxonomic revision of the tarantula genus Aphonopelma Pocock, 1901 (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Theraphosidae) within the United States in: ZooKeys 560: 1-340 (February 4, 2016 ), doi : 10.3897 / zookeys.560.6264 .
  16. Million damage: House of country legend Johnny Cash burned down Spiegel Online, April 11, 2007
  17. ^ Fire destroys Johnny Cashs former home
  20. The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. Rolling Stone , August 2015, accessed August 7, 2017 .
  21. Johnny Cash Joins Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Accessed April 3, 2011.
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on May 2, 2006 .