Thursday, February 26, 2009
The Man In Black
Music legend Johnny Cash was born February 26, 1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas.
J.R. Cash (his given the name because his parents could not agree on a name, only on initials.) was the son of poor cotton farmers, and one of seven children.His family's economic and personal struggles during the Depression inspired many of his songs, especially those about other people facing similar difficulties.
Cash's early memories were dominated by gospel music and radio. Taught by his mother and a childhood friend, Johnny began playing guitar and writing songs as a young boy.
He made his first single, "Hey Porter", for Sun Records in 1955.
In 1958 he moved to Columbia Records.
He had long periods of drug abuse during the 1960s, but later that decade he successfully fought his addiction with the help of singer June Carter Cash, whom he married in 1968.
In 1975 wrote his autobiography, "Man In Black", which is now out of print.
In the late 1980s he moved from Columbia Records to Mercury, then in the next decade moved again to American Recordings.
Amongst his biggest hit records were "I Walk the Line", "Ring of Fire" and "A Boy Named Sue".
Cash disliked being defined as a "country" artist, feeling that his music wasn't really genre-defined and noting that he often stood well outside of the Nashville mainstream (particularly towards the end of his career). Technically, his music contains elements of rock 'n' roll, folk music, bluegrass, blues and gospel as well as country-style music.
Johnny Cash is the only person besides Hank Williams to have been inducted into the Songwriters, Country Music, and Rock And Roll Halls of Fame.(Elvis Presley, Hank Williams and Johnny are the only three musicians to have been inducted both to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.)
From 1969 to 1971, Cash starred in his own television show, The Johnny Cash Show, on the ABC network. The Statler Brothers opened up for him in every episode; the Carter Family and rockabilly legend Carl Perkins were also part of the regular show entourage. However, Cash also enjoyed booking more contemporary performers as guests; such notables included Neil Young, Louis Armstrong, James Taylor, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton (then leading Derek and the Dominoes), and Bob Dylan.
Johnny Cash died of complications from diabetes, after several years of ill health, on September 12, 2003, only a few months after the death of his beloved wife.
Listen to Johnny Cash Radio.