Last modified on June 8, 2017, at 13:36

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash

John R. "Johnny" Cash (Born J.R. Cash, February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American country singer, actor and author. He is one of a small number of people to hold dual membership in both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as being in the Gospel Hall of Fame and Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

Cash's style of music could greatly vary. He is most known for his country music. However, he was also famous for singing rockabilly (particularly early in his career), rock and roll, blues, folk, gospel music, and he covered songs by rock artists later in his life.

Cash was known as the Man in Black because of the attire he wore. He was also a champion for prisoners, though only being incarcerated for minor misdemeanors such as going to the El Paso International Airport in October 1965 after U.S. Customs agents found hundreds of pep pills and tranquilizers in his luggage returning from Mexico.

Cash was also a devout Christian, but suffered some problems with drugs. He later rededicated his life to Christ and quit his drug use.

Early life

Cash was born in Little Rock, Arkansas to Ray Cash Carrie Cloveree Rivers as J. R. Cash. He was renamed John R. Cash by his parents and used that name when he enlisted in the United States Air Force since they would not accept initials as his name, and he used Johnny Cash as a stage name. In March 1935, the Cash family relocated to Dyess, Arkansas. He worked picking cotton and his family's trouble during the Great Depression inspired many of his songs. Cash's siblings' names were: Roy, Margaret Louise, Jack, Reba, Joanne and Tommy. Cash always felt guilt over the saw accident that killed his older brother Tommy (who Cash was very close to) at the age of fifteen. He broke into both country music and early rock and roll on the famed Sun Records label of Memphis, Tennessee, with his biggest hit from those years being "I Walk the Line".

Personal life

His marriage to June Carter Cash marked a turnaround in his career. He rededicated his life to Jesus Christ, got off drugs, and recorded two very popular albums, At Folsom Prison (1968) and At San Quentin (1969) both recorded live before prison audiences. Many of the prisoners were deeply moved by his testimony and accepted Christ as their Savior.[1]


Cash in 1969

In 1958 he made the jump to Columbia Records where he remained until 1987. He recorded a series of concept albums in the 1960s ranging from several albums of Gospel music to albums about American history (Ride This Train and Songs Of Our Soil), blue collar workers (Blood, Sweat, and Tears), American Indians (Bitter Tears), and novelty songs (Everybody Loves a Nut). He continued to hit with major hit singles during this period as well, with songs like "Ring of Fire". However his career ran into increasing trouble because of a spiraling drug problem.

His early 1970s albums continued his commercial success and included a few Christian songs on each album. Typical was his 1971 album Man In Black, which introduced the nickname he would be known by ever since, included another major hit single in the title track, and featured Billy Graham on one Gospel track. However his commercial success began to fall off considerably after 1976. His last major hit single was "One Piece at a Time" in 1976. He continued to record throughout the rest of the 1970s and the 1980s.

In 1973, he narrated "The Gospel Road". [1]

In 1981, he played an illiterate Kentucky single father in "The Pride of Jesse Hallum" [2] (for which he wrote the music).

Cash also was in a group of aging country stars, called the Highwaymen, also including Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristoffersen, and Willie Nelson, and they released three albums. Their first album Highwayman was released in 1985.

Cash's career made another comeback starting in 1994 after being signed by producer Rick Rubin's American label. The series of albums that followed, starting with American Recordings, introduced Johnny Cash's music to a brand new, younger audience. A cover of "Hurt", which was originally by Nine Inch Nails, became a major hit and the video for it won several awards.


In 1980, Cash was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2007.

Written Works

  • Man in Black: His Own Story in His Own Words
  • Cash: The Autobiography (with Patrick Carr)
  • Love (with June Carter Cash)
  • The Man in White

Other works

Cash did an audio recording of the entire New Testament of the New King James Version of the Holy Bible.


Year released Album title Year released Album title
1957 Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar 1975 Look at Them Beans
1958 Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous 1975 Sings Precious Memories
1959 Greatest! 1975 Strawberry Cake
1959 Hymns by Johnny Cash 1975 The Johnny Cash Children's Album
1959 Songs of Our Soil 1976 One Piece at a Time
1959 The Fabulous Johnny Cash 1977 The Last Gunfighter Ballad
1960 Now, There Was a Song! 1977 The Rambler
1960 Ride This Train 1978 Gone Girl
1960 Sings Hank Williams 1978 I Would Like to See You Again
1961 Now Here's Johnny Cash 1979 A Believer Sings the Truth
1962 All Aboard the Blue Train 1979 Silver
1962 Hymns from the Heart 1980 Classic Christmas
1962 The Sound of Johnny Cash 1980 Sings with the BC Goodpasture Christian School
1963 Blood, Sweat, and Tears 1980 Rockabilly Blues
1963 The Christmas Spirit 1981 The Baron
1964 Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian 1982 The Adventures of Johnny Cash
1964 I Walk the Line 1983 Johnny 99
1964 The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash 1983 Koncert V Praze (In Prague-Live)
1965 Orange Blossom Special 1984 I Believe
1965 Sings the Ballads of the True West 1985 Rainbow
1966 Everybody Loves a Nut 1986 Believe in Him
1966 Happiness Is You 1987 Johnny Cash Is Coming to Town
1968 At Folsom Prison 1988 Classic Cash: Hall of Fame Series
1968 From Sea to Shining Sea 1988 Water from the Wells of Home
1969 At San Quentin 1990 Boom Chicka Boom
1969 The Holy Land 1991 Johnny Cash Country Christmas
1970 Hello, I'm Johnny Cash 1991 The Mystery of Life
1970 I Walk the Line - soundtrack 1992 Return to the Promised Land
1970 The Johnny Cash Show 1994 American Recordings
1971 Little Fauss and Big Halsy - soundtrack 1996 Unchained
1971 Man in Black 2000 American III: Solitary Man
1972 America: A 200-Year Salute in Story and Song 2002 American IV: The Man Comes Around
1972 A Thing Called Love 2002 At Madison Square Garden
1972 The Johnny Cash Family Christmas 2003 Unearthed
1973 Any Old Wind That Blows 2004 My Mother's Hymn Book
1973 På Österåker 2005 Live from Austin, TX
1973 The Gospel Road 2006 American V: A Hundred Highways
1974 Junkie and the Juicehead Minus Me 2007 The Great Lost Performance - Live at the Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, New Jersey
1974 Ragged Old Flag 2010 American VI: Ain't No Grave
1975 John R. Cash


  1. Jim Hefley's biography of Johnny Cash