Born John R Cash in Kingsland, Arkansas on the 26th February 1932 Johnny Cash as he later became known was a very famous and well known singer, songwriter, producer, actor, author and also one of the most profound individuals that changed many people’s lives during his lifetime. Cash is featured in three halls of fame; the Country Music Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Gospel Music Hall of Fame. He was an exceptionally diverse person and was able to cross over his music to suit which is why he appealed to so many people on so many different levels. His voice is one of the most well known and recognized voices of the 20th century as it was exceptionally distinctive with a difference bass baritone voice that was deep and also adaptable. His most well known work that is instantly recognized is the famous “Folsom Prison Blues”, “I Walk the Line”, “Ring of Fire”, “Man in Black” and his hit “Get Rhythm”, these songs tackle the dark issues of sorrow, trials and tribulation, morals and also the thought and feelings of redemption. His earlier work was a lot lighter than this darker side that emerged with his songs streaming with love but also loss, strength and inner thoughts.
Johnny was the 4th child of 7 children which his parents, Ray Cash and Carrie Cloveree Rivers had during their marriage. Johnny used the abbreviation of J.R throughout his childhood but only when he became a serving airman in the USA Air Force did he have to use his correct name of Johnny R Cash. It was only when he began recording with the label Sun did he choose his stage name, Johnny Cash in 1955. It was his difficult and hard childhood which inspired many of his future songs but although his personal and family circumstances were at times best described as difficult he had a well rounded and love filled childhood mentally. But it was both the good times and the hard times that featured in his many songs and albums that we have all come to know and love.
During his career Johnny Cash met many famous and influential individuals who included Luther Perkins, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Marshall Grant and Jerry Lee Lewis. In 1956 Elvis along with Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Cash himself played an impromptu jamming session in which the tapes fully recorded which was much later released as the “Million Dollar Quartet” and became a huge smash hit for them all. With great singles such as “Folsom Prison Blues”, “I Walk the Line” which topped at number 1 in the US Country charts and “Don’t Take Your guns to Town” Cash carved out a name for himself and his career flourished under the watchful eyes of Sun and then Columbia records.
Cash was no stranger to the law and this helped him to create an “outlaw image” that allowed him to brand himself as someone very different to the other artists available at the time and standing out did him good in both his personal life and his career. This “outlaw image” was one of a romantic stranger with good looks and an amazing voice, and although he promoted this image and fed into it by getting arrested he was never sent to prison.
Johnny Cash’s first marriage was to Vivian Liberto in 1954 after he was discharged from the Air Force. This marriage lasted for 12 years and in 1966 they got divorced but the marriage was in all a happy one until nearer the end with 4 daughters being born; Kathy, Rosanne, Tara and Cindy. The marriage broke down after Cash became hooked on drugs and alcohol, and had numerous affairs whilst on tour.
His second wife and love of his life he had actually met 13 years before they married at the Grand Ole Opry. June Carter became his wife on the 1st March 1968 and continued to be married until her untimely death in 2003. The marriage was also fruitful with a son being born, John Carter Cash, in 1970 who went on to become a famous singer just like his parents and half sister Rosanne from Johnny’s first marriage. Cash and Carter worked together through a wide span of 35 years and even penned one of his most famous hits “Ring of Fire” together. Often dueting together the pair was a powerful couple and managed to corner and be successful in everything they did within the music, literature and cultural markets. Johnny Cash died also in 2003 just 4 months after the death of his wife June. Although he died from natural causes many believe that he died of a broken heart. Today they are buried together in the family plot they created in the Hendersonville Memory Gardens Hendersonville, Tennessee, USA.