Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash
Cash in 1970
J.R. Cash

(1932-02-26)February 26, 1932
DiedSeptember 12, 2003(2003-09-12) (aged 71)
Resting placeHendersonville Memory Gardens, Tennessee, U.S.
  • Singer-songwriter
  • guitarist
  • actor
  • author
Years active1954–2003
  • Vivian Liberto
    (m. 1954; div. 1966)
  • June Carter
    (m. 1968; died 2003)
Children5, including Rosanne and John Carter
RelativesTommy Cash (brother)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Associated acts

John R. "Johnny" Cash (born J. R. Cash; February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author.[2] He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide.[3][4] Although primarily remembered as a country music icon, his genre-spanning songs and sound embraced rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of being inducted into the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.

Cash was known for his deep, calm bass-baritone voice,[a][6] the distinctive sound of his Tennessee Three backing band characterized by train-like chugging guitar rhythms, a rebelliousness[7][8] coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor,[5] free prison concerts,[9] and a trademark, all-black stage wardrobe, which earned him the nickname "The Man in Black".[b] He traditionally began his concerts by simply introducing himself, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash,"[c] followed by his signature song "Folsom Prison Blues".

Much of Cash's music contained themes of sorrow, moral tribulation, and redemption, especially in the later stages of his career.[5][12] His other signature songs include "I Walk the Line", "Ring of Fire", "Get Rhythm", and "Man in Black". He also recorded humorous numbers like "One Piece at a Time" and "A Boy Named Sue"; a duet with his future wife, June Carter, called "Jackson" (followed by many further duets after their wedding); and railroad songs including "Hey, Porter", "Orange Blossom Special", and "Rock Island Line".[13] During the last stage of his career, Cash covered songs by several late 20th-century rock artists, notably "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails and "Rusty Cage" by Soundgarden.

Early life

Cash's boyhood home in Dyess, Arkansas, where he lived from the age of three in 1935 until he finished high school in 1950. The property, pictured here in 2013, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas,[14][15] to Carrie Cloveree (née Rivers) and Ray Cash. He was the fourth of seven children, who were in birth order: Roy, Margaret Louise, Jack, J. R., Reba, Joanne, and Tommy (who also became a successful country artist).[16][17] He was primarily of English and Scottish descent.[18][19][20] As an adult he traced his surname to 11th-century Fife, after meeting with the then-laird of Falkland, Major Michael Crichton-Stuart.[21][22][23] Cash Loch and other locations in Fife bear the name of his family.[21]

At birth, Cash was named J. R. Cash.[24] When he enlisted in the United States Air Force, he was not permitted to use initials as a first name, so he changed it to John R. Cash. In 1955, when signing with Sun Records, he started using the name Johnny Cash.[8]

In March 1935, when Cash was three years old, the family settled in Dyess, Arkansas, a New Deal colony established to give poor families the opportunity to work land that they may later own.[25] From the age of five, Cash worked in cotton fields with his family, singing with them as they worked. The Cash farm in Dyess experienced a flood, which led Cash later to write the song "Five Feet High and Rising".[26] His family's economic and personal struggles during the Great Depression inspired many of his songs, especially those about other people facing similar difficulties. Consequently, Cash had sympathy for the poor and working class throughout his life.

On Saturday, May 13, 1944,[27] Cash's older brother Jack, with whom he was close, was seriously injured in an accident at his job in a high school. He was pulled into an unguarded table saw while cutting oak into fence posts, and was almost cut in two. He died from his injuries a week later.[28] Cash often spoke of the guilt he felt over this incident; according to Cash: The Autobiography, his father was away that morning, but Johnny, his mother, and even Jack himself, all had premonitions or a sense of foreboding about that day. His mother urged Jack to skip work and go fishing with his brother, but he insisted on working as the family needed the money. On his deathbed, Jack said he had visions of Heaven and angels. Decades later, Cash spoke of looking forward to meeting his brother in Heaven.[8]

Cash's early memories were dominated by gospel music and radio. Taught guitar by his mother and a childhood friend, Cash began playing and writing songs at the age of 12. When young, Cash had a high-tenor voice, before becoming a bass-baritone after his voice changed.[29]

In high school, he sang on a local radio station. Decades later, he released an album of traditional gospel songs, called My Mother's Hymn Book. He was also significantly influenced by traditional Irish music, which he heard performed weekly by Dennis Day on the Jack Benny radio program.[30]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Johnny Cash
العربية: جوني كاش
aragonés: Johnny Cash
asturianu: Johnny Cash
azərbaycanca: Conni Keş
تۆرکجه: جانی کش
Bân-lâm-gú: Johnny Cash
беларуская: Джоні Кэш
Bislama: Johnny Cash
български: Джони Кеш
Boarisch: Johnny Cash
bosanski: Johnny Cash
brezhoneg: Johnny Cash
català: Johnny Cash
čeština: Johnny Cash
Cymraeg: Johnny Cash
Deitsch: Johnny Cash
Deutsch: Johnny Cash
dolnoserbski: Johnny Cash
Ελληνικά: Τζόνι Κας
español: Johnny Cash
Esperanto: Johnny Cash
estremeñu: Johnny Cash
euskara: Johnny Cash
فارسی: جانی کش
føroyskt: Johnny Cash
français: Johnny Cash
Gaeilge: Johnny Cash
Gàidhlig: Johnny Cash
galego: Johnny Cash
한국어: 조니 캐시
Hawaiʻi: Johnny Cash
հայերեն: Ջոնի Քեշ
हिन्दी: जॉनी कैश
hornjoserbsce: Johnny Cash
hrvatski: Johnny Cash
Bahasa Indonesia: Johnny Cash
íslenska: Johnny Cash
italiano: Johnny Cash
עברית: ג'וני קאש
ქართული: ჯონი კეში
kernowek: Johnny Cash
Kiswahili: Johnny Cash
Latina: Ioannes Cash
latviešu: Džonijs Kešs
Lëtzebuergesch: Johnny Cash
lietuvių: Johnny Cash
lumbaart: Johnny Cash
magyar: Johnny Cash
македонски: Џони Кеш
Malagasy: Johnny Cash
मराठी: जॉनी कॅश
მარგალური: ჯონი კეში
مصرى: جونى كاش
Bahasa Melayu: Johnny Cash
Nāhuatl: Johnny Cash
Dorerin Naoero: Johnny Cash
Nederlands: Johnny Cash
norsk nynorsk: Johnny Cash
occitan: Johnny Cash
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Johnny Cash
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਜੌਨੀ ਕੈਸ਼
Plattdüütsch: Johnny Cash
polski: Johnny Cash
português: Johnny Cash
română: Johnny Cash
Runa Simi: Johnny Cash
русский: Кэш, Джонни
Simple English: Johnny Cash
slovenčina: Johnny Cash
slovenščina: Johnny Cash
کوردی: جۆنی کاش
српски / srpski: Џони Кеш
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Johnny Cash
Basa Sunda: Johnny Cash
svenska: Johnny Cash
Tsetsêhestâhese: Johnny Cash
Türkçe: Johnny Cash
українська: Джонні Кеш
vèneto: Johnny Cash
Tiếng Việt: Johnny Cash
Winaray: Johnny Cash
Yorùbá: Johnny Cash
粵語: 尊尼卡殊