Johnny Cash (born J. R. Cash; February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was a Grammy Award-winning American country singer-songwriter. Cash is widely considered to be one of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century.
Cash was known for his deep, distinctive bass-baritone voice, the “freight train” sound of his Tennessee Three backing band, his demeanor, and his dark clothing, which earned him the nickname “The Man in Black”. He traditionally started his concerts with the introduction “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash”.
Much of Cash’s music, especially that of his later career, echoed themes of sorrow, moral tribulation, and redemption. His signature songs include “I Walk the Line”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Ring of Fire”, “Get Rhythm”, and “Man in Black”. He also recorded humorous songs, such as “One Piece at a Time” and “A Boy Named Sue”, a duet with June Carter called “Jackson”, as well as railroad songs such as “Rock Island Line.”
He sold over 90 million albums in his nearly fifty-year career and came to occupy a “commanding position in music history”.
Cash was of Scottish descent but he learned this only upon researching his ancestry. After a chance meeting with former Falkland laird, Major Michael Crichton-Stuart, he traced the Cash family tree to 11th century Fife, Scotland.
He had believed in his younger days that he was mainly Irish and partially Native American (he had been told he was one-quarter Cherokee). Even after learning he had no Native American ancestry, Cash’s empathy and compassion for Native Americans was unabated. These feelings were expressed in several of his songs, including “Apache Tears” and “The Ballad of Ira Hayes”, and on his album, Bitter Tears.
Cash was reportedly given the name “J.R.” because his parents could not agree on a name, only on initials. When he enlisted in the United States Air Force, the military would not accept initials as his name, so he adopted John R. Cash as his legal name. In 1955, when signing with Sun Records, he took Johnny Cash as his stage name. His friends and in-laws generally called him John, while his blood relatives usually continued to call him J.R.
Cash was one of seven children: Reba Hancock, Jack, Joanne (Cash-Yates), Tommy, Roy, and Louise Cash Garrett. His younger brother, Tommy Cash, also became a successful country artist.
By the age of five, J.R. was working in the cotton fields, singing along with his family as they worked. The family farm was flooded on at least one occasion, which later inspired him to write the song “Five Feet High and Rising”. His family’s economic and personal struggles during the Depression inspired many of his songs, especially those about other people facing similar difficulties.
Cash was very close to his brother Jack, who was two years older. In 1944, Jack was pulled into a whirling table saw in the mill where he worked, and cut almost in two. He suffered for over a week before he died. Cash often spoke of the horrible guilt he felt over this incident. According to Cash: The Autobiography, his father was away that morning, but he and his mother, and Jack himself, all had premonitions or a sense of foreboding about that day, causing his mother to urge Jack to skip work and go fishing with his brother. Jack 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. He wrote that he had seen his brother many times in his dreams, and that Jack always looked two years older than whatever age Cash himself was at that moment.
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. 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 that he heard performed weekly by Dennis Day on the Jack Benny radio program.
Cash enlisted in the United States Air Force. After basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and technical training at Brooks Air Force Base, both in San Antonio, Texas, Cash was assigned to a U.S. Air Force Security Service unit, assigned as a morse code decoder on Russian Army transmissions, at Landsberg, Germany. On July 3, 1954, he was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant. Then, he returned to Texas.
While in Air Force training, Cash met Vivian Liberto on July 18, 1951 at a roller skating rink in San Antonio, Texas. A month after his discharge, on August 7, 1954, they were married at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in San Antonio. They had four daughters together: Rosanne (born May 24, 1955), Kathleen “Kathy” (born April 16, 1956), Cynthia “Cindy” (born July 29, 1958), and Tara Joan (born August 24, 1961).
In 1954, the couple moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he sold appliances while studying to be a radio announcer. At night he played with guitarist Luther Perkins and bassist Marshall Grant. Perkins and Grant were known as the Tennessee Two. Cash worked up the courage to visit the Sun Records studio, hoping to get a recording contract. After auditioning for Sam Phillips, singing mostly gospel songs, Phillips told him to “go home and sin, then come back with a song I can sell.” Cash eventually won over Phillips with new songs delivered in his early frenetic style. His first recordings at Sun, “Hey Porter” and “Cry Cry Cry”, were released in 1955 and met with reasonable success on the country hit parade.
Cash’s next record, Folsom Prison Blues, made the country Top 5, and “I Walk the Line” became No. 1 on the country charts and entered the pop charts Top 20. Following “I Walk the Line” was “Home of the Blues”, recorded in July 1957. That same year Cash became the first Sun artist to release a long-playing album. Although he was Sun’s most consistently best-selling and prolific artist at that time, Cash felt constrained by his contract with the small label. Elvis Presley had already left Sun, and Phillips was focusing most of his attention and promotion on Jerry Lee Lewis. The following year Cash left the label to sign a lucrative offer with Columbia Records, where his single “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town” became one of his biggest hits.
In the early 1960s, Cash toured with the Carter Family, which by this time regularly included Mother Maybelle’s daughters, Anita, June and Helen. June, whom Cash would eventually marry, later recalled admiring Johnny from afar during these tours.
As his career was taking off in the early 1960s, Cash started drinking heavily and became addicted to amphetamines and barbiturates. For a brief time, he shared an apartment in Nashville with Waylon Jennings, who was heavily addicted to amphetamines. Cash used the uppers to stay awake during tours. Friends joked about his “nervousness” and erratic behavior, many ignoring the warning signs of his worsening drug addiction. In a behind the scenes look at The Johnny Cash Show, Cash claims to have “tried every drug there was to try.”
Although in many ways spiraling out of control, Cash’s frenetic creativity was still delivering hits. His rendition of “Ring of Fire” was a crossover hit, reaching No. 1 on the country charts and entering the Top 20 on the pop charts. The song was written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore. The song was originally performed by Carter’s sister, but the signature mariachi-style horn arrangement was provided by Cash, who said that it had come to him in a dream.
In June 1965, his truck caught fire due to an overheated wheel bearing, triggering a forest fire that burnt several hundred acres in Los Padres National Forest in California. When the judge asked Cash why he did it, Cash said, “I didn’t do it, my truck did, and it’s dead, so you can’t question it.” The fire destroyed 508 acres (2.06 km2), burning the foliage off three mountains and killing 49 of the refuge’s 53 endangered condors. Cash was unrepentant: “I don’t care about your damn yellow buzzards.” The federal government sued him and was awarded $125,127. Johnny eventually settled the case and paid $82,001. Cash said he was the only person ever sued by the government for starting a forest fire.
Although Cash carefully cultivated a romantic outlaw image, he never served a prison sentence. Despite landing in jail seven times for misdemeanors, each stay lasted only a single night. His most infamous run-in with the law occurred while on tour in 1965, when he was arrested by a narcotics squad in El Paso, Texas. The officers suspected that he was smuggling heroin from Mexico, but it was prescription narcotics and amphetamines that the singer had hidden inside his guitar case. Because they were prescription drugs rather than illegal narcotics, he received a suspended sentence.
Cash was also arrested on May 11, 1965, in Starkville, Mississippi, for trespassing late at night onto private property to pick flowers. (This incident gave the spark for the song “Starkville City Jail”, which he spoke about on his live At San Quentin prison album.)
In the mid 1960s, Cash released a number of concept albums, including Ballads Of The True West (1965), an experimental double record mixing authentic frontier songs with Cash’s spoken narration, and Bitter Tears (1964), with songs highlighting the plight of the Native Americans. His drug addiction was at its worst at this point, and his destructive behavior led to a divorce from his first wife and canceled performances.
In 1967, Cash’s duet with Carter, “Jackson”, won a Grammy Award.
Cash quit using drugs in 1968, after a spiritual epiphany in the Nickajack Cave. June, Maybelle, and Ezra Carter moved into Cash’s mansion for a month to help him defeat his addiction. Cash proposed onstage to Carter at a concert at the London Gardens in London, Ontario on February 22, 1968; the couple married a week later (on March 1) in Franklin, Kentucky. June had agreed to marry Cash after he had ‘cleaned up’. Rediscovering his Christian faith, taking an “altar call” in Evangel Temple, a small church in the Nashville area, Cash chose this church over many larger celebrity churches in the Nashville area because he said that there he was treated like just another parishioner and not a celebrity.
Folsom Prison Blues
Cash felt great compassion for prisoners. He began performing concerts at various prisons starting in the late 1950s. These performances led to a pair of highly successful live albums, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (1968) and Johnny Cash at San Quentin (1969).
The Folsom Prison record was introduced by a rendition of his classic “Folsom Prison Blues”, while the San Quentin record included the crossover hit single “A Boy Named Sue”, a Shel Silverstein-penned novelty song that reached No. 1 on the country charts and No. 2 on the U.S. Top Ten pop charts. The AM versions of the latter contained a couple of profanities which were edited out. The modern CD versions are unedited and uncensored and thus also longer than the original vinyl albums, though they still retain the audience reaction overdubs of the originals.
In addition to his performances at U.S. prisons, Cash also performed at the Österåker Prison in Sweden in 1972. The live album På Österåker (“At Österåker”) was released in 1973. Between the songs, Cash can be heard speaking Swedish, which was greatly appreciated by the inmates.
“The Man in Black”
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 Dominos), and Bob Dylan.
Cash had met with Dylan in the mid 1960s and became closer friends when they were neighbors in the late 1960s in Woodstock, New York. Cash was enthusiastic about reintroducing the reclusive Dylan to his audience. Cash sang a duet with Dylan on Dylan’s country album Nashville Skyline and also wrote the album’s Grammy-winning liner notes.
Another artist who received a major career boost from The Johnny Cash Show was songwriter Kris Kristofferson, who was beginning to make a name for himself as a singer/songwriter. During a live performance of Kristofferson’s “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”, Cash refused to change the lyrics to suit network executives, singing the song with its references to marijuana intact: “On a Sunday morning sidewalk / I’m wishin’, Lord, that I was stoned.”
By the early 1970s, he had crystallized his public image as “The Man in Black”. He regularly performed dressed all in black, wearing a long black knee-length coat. This outfit stood in contrast to the costumes worn by most of the major country acts in his day: rhinestone suit and cowboy boots. In 1971, Cash wrote the song “Man in Black” to help explain his dress code: “We’re doing mighty fine I do suppose/In our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes/But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back/Up front there ought to be a man in black.”
He and his band had initially worn black shirts because that was the only matching color they had among their various outfits. He wore other colors on stage early in his career, but he claimed to like wearing black both on and off stage. He stated that, political reasons aside, he simply liked black as his on-stage color. To this day, the United States Navy’s winter blue service uniform is referred to by sailors as “Johnny Cashes,” as the uniform’s shirt, tie, and trousers are solid black.
In the mid 1970s, Cash’s popularity and number of hit songs began to decline, but his autobiography (the first of two), titled Man in Black, was published in 1975 and sold 1.3 million copies. A second, Cash: The Autobiography, appeared in 1997. His friendship with Billy Graham led to the production of a movie about the life of Jesus, The Gospel Road, which Cash co-wrote and narrated. The decade saw his religious conviction deepening, and he made many evangelical appearances.
He also continued to appear on television, hosting an annual Christmas special on CBS throughout the 1970s. Later television appearances included a role in an episode of Columbo. He also appeared with his wife on an episode of Little House on the Prairie entitled “The Collection” and gave a performance as John Brown in the 1985 Civil War television mini-series North and South.
He was friendly with every United States President starting with Richard Nixon. He was closest with Jimmy Carter, who became a very close friend. He stated that he found all of them personally charming, noting that this was probably essential to getting oneself elected.
When invited to perform at the White House for the first time in 1972, President Richard Nixon’s office requested that he play “Okie from Muskogee” (a satirical Merle Haggard song about people who despised youthful drug users and war protesters) and “Welfare Cadillac” (a Guy Drake song that derides the integrity of welfare recipients). Cash declined to play either song and instead played a series of more left-leaning, politically charged songs, including “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” (about a brave Native-American World War II veteran who was mistreated upon his return to Arizona), and his own compositions, “What is Truth?” and “Man in Black”. Cash claimed that the reasons for denying Nixon’s song choices were not knowing them and having fairly short notice to rehearse them, rather than any political reason.
In 1980, Cash became the Country Music Hall of Fame’s youngest living inductee at age forty-eight, but during the 1980s his records failed to make a major impact on the country charts, although he continued to tour successfully. In the mid 1980s, he recorded and toured with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson as The Highwaymen, making two hit albums.
During this period, Cash appeared as an actor in a number of television films. In 1981, he starred in The Pride of Jesse Hallam. Cash won fine reviews for his work in this film that called attention to adult illiteracy. In 1983, Cash also appeared as a heroic sheriff in Murder In Coweta County, which co-starred Andy Griffith as his nemesis. This film was based on a real-life Georgia murder case. Cash had tried for years to make the film, for which he won acclaim.
Cash relapsed into addiction after being administered painkillers for a serious abdominal injury in 1983 caused by an unusual incident in which he was kicked and critically wounded by an ostrich he kept on his farm.
At a hospital visit in 1988, this time to watch over Waylon Jennings (who was recovering from a heart attack), Jennings suggested that Cash have himself checked into the hospital for his own heart condition. Doctors recommended preventive heart surgery, and Cash underwent double bypass surgery in the same hospital. Both recovered, although Cash refused to use any prescription painkillers, fearing a relapse into dependency. Cash later claimed that during his operation, he had what is called a “near death experience”. He said he had visions of Heaven that were so beautiful that he was angry when he woke up alive.
Cash’s recording career and his general relationship with the Nashville establishment were at an all-time low in the 1980s. He realized that his record label of nearly 30 years, Columbia, was growing indifferent to him and wasn’t properly marketing him (he was “invisible” during that time, as he said in his autobiography). Cash recorded an intentionally awful song to protest, a self-parody. “Chicken in Black” was about Johnny’s brain being transplanted into a chicken. Ironically, the song turned out to be a larger commercial success than any of his other recent material. Nevertheless, he was hoping to kill the relationship with the label before they did, and it was not long after “Chicken in Black” that Columbia and Cash parted ways.
In 1986, Cash returned to Sun Studios in Memphis to team up with Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins to create the album Class of ‘55. This was not the first time he had teamed up with Lewis and Perkins at Sun Studios. On December 4, 1956, Elvis Presley dropped in on Phillips to pay a social visit while Perkins was in the studio cutting new tracks, with Lewis backing him on piano. Cash was also in the studio and the four started an impromptu jam session. Phillips left the tapes running and the recordings, almost half of which were gospel songs, survived and have been released on CD under the title Million Dollar Quartet. Tracks also include Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”, Pat Boone’s “Don’t Forbid Me”, and Elvis doing an impersonation of Jackie Wilson (who was then with Billy Ward and the Dominoes) singing “Don’t Be Cruel”.
In 1986, Cash published his only novel, Man in White, a book about Saul and his conversion to become the Apostle Paul. He also recorded Johnny Cash Reads The Complete New Testament in 1990.
After Columbia Records dropped Cash from his recording contract, he had a short and unsuccessful stint with Mercury Records from 1987 to 1991 (see Johnny Cash discography).
In 1991, Cash sang lead vocals on a cover version of “Man in Black” for the Christian punk band One Bad Pig’s album I Scream Sunday.
His career was rejuvenated in the 1990s, leading to popularity among a younger audience not traditionally interested in country music. In 1993, he sang the vocal on U2’s “The Wanderer” for their album Zooropa. Although he was no longer sought after by major labels, Cash was approached by producer Rick Rubin and offered a contract with Rubin’s American Recordings label, better known for rap and hard rock.
Under Rubin’s supervision, he recorded the album American Recordings (1994) in his living room, accompanied only by his guitar. That guitar was a Martin dreadnought guitar – one of many Cash played throughout his career. The album featured several covers of contemporary artists selected by Rubin and had much critical and commercial success, winning a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Cash wrote that his reception at the 1994 Glastonbury Festival was one of the highlights of his career. This was the beginning of a decade of music industry accolades and surprising commercial success.
Cash and his wife appeared on a number of episodes of the popular television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman starring Jane Seymour. The actress thought so highly of Cash that she later named one of her twin sons after him. He lent his voice for a cartoon cameo in an episode of The Simpsons, with his voice as that of a coyote that guides Homer on a spiritual quest. In 1996, Cash released a sequel to American Recordings, Unchained, and enlisted the accompaniment of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which won a Grammy for Best Country Album. Cash, believing he did not explain enough of himself in his 1975 autobiography Man in Black, wrote another autobiography in 1997 entitled Cash: The Autobiography.
Last years and death
In 1997, Cash was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease Shy-Drager syndrome. The diagnosis was later altered to autonomic neuropathy associated with diabetes. This illness forced Cash to curtail his touring. He was hospitalized in 1998 with severe pneumonia, which damaged his lungs. The albums American III: Solitary Man (2000) and American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002) contained Cash’s response to his illness in the form of songs of a slightly more somber tone than the first two American albums. The video that was released for “Hurt”, a song by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, fit Cash’s view of his past and feelings of regret. The video for the song is now generally recognized as “his epitaph,” from American IV; and received particular critical and popular acclaim.
June Carter Cash died on May 15, 2003, at the age of seventy-three. June had told Cash to keep working, so he continued to record and even performed a couple of surprise shows at the Carter Family Fold outside Bristol, Virginia. (The July 5, 2003 concert was his final public appearance.) At the June 21, 2003 concert, before singing “Ring of Fire”, Cash read a statement about his late wife that he had written shortly before taking the stage. He spoke of how June’s spirit was watching over him and how she had come to visit him before going on stage. He barely made it through the song. Despite his poor health, he spoke of looking forward to the day when he could walk again and toss his wheelchair into the river near his home.
Johnny Cash died less than four months after his wife, on September 12, 2003, while hospitalized at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. He was interred next to his wife in Hendersonville Memory Gardens near his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. He was 71.
On May 24, 2005, Vivian Liberto, Cash’s first wife and the mother of Rosanne Cash, and three other daughters, died from surgery to remove lung cancer. It was Rosanne Cash’s fiftieth birthday.
His stepdaughter, Rosie (Nix) Adams and another passenger were found dead on a bus in Montgomery County, Tennessee, on October 24, 2003. It was speculated that the deaths may have been caused by carbon monoxide from the lanterns in the bus. Adams was 45 when she died. She was buried in the Hendersonville Memorial Gardens, Hendersonville, Tennessee, near her mother and stepfather.
In June 2005, his lakeside home on Caudill Drive in Hendersonville, Tennessee, went up for sale by the Cash estate. In January 2006, the house was sold to Bee Gees vocalist Barry Gibb and wife Linda Gibb and titled in their Florida limited liability company for $2.3 million. The listing agent was Cash’s younger brother, Tommy Cash. The home was destroyed by fire on April 10, 2007.
One of Johnny Cash’s final collaborations with producer Rick Rubin, entitled American V: A Hundred Highways, was released posthumously on July 4, 2006. The album debuted in the #1 position on _Billboard Magazine_s Top 200 album chart for the week ending July 22, 2006. Enough of Cash’s music was left to put together a posthumous album which he had helped plan. The album, American VI, is planned for release in 2008.
From his early days as a pioneer of rockabilly and rock and roll in the 1950s, to his decades as an international representative of country music, to his resurgence to fame in the 1990s as a living legend and an alternative country icon, Cash influenced countless artists and left a large body of work. Upon his death, Cash was revered by the greatest popular musicians of his time.
Among Johnny Cash’s children, his daughter Rosanne Cash (by first wife Vivian Liberto) and his son John Carter Cash (by June Carter Cash) are notable country-music musicians in their own right.
Cash nurtured and defended artists on the fringes of what was acceptable in country music even while serving as the country music establishment’s most visible symbol. At an all-star TNT concert in 1999, a diverse group of artists paid him tribute, including Bob Dylan, Chris Isaak, Wyclef Jean, Norah Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and U2. Cash himself appeared at the end and performed for the first time in more than a year. Two tribute albums were released shortly before his death; Kindred Spirits contains works from established artists, while Dressed in Black contains works from many lesser-known artists.
In total, he wrote over a thousand songs and released dozens of albums. A box set titled Unearthed was issued posthumously. It included four CDs of unreleased material recorded with Rubin as well as a Best of Cash on American retrospective CD.
In recognition of his lifelong support of SOS Children’s Villages, his family invited friends and fans to donate to that charity in his memory. He had a personal link with the SOS village in Diessen, at the Ammersee-Lake in Southern Germany, near where he was stationed as a GI, and also with the SOS village in Barrett Town, by Montego Bay, near his holiday home in Jamaica. The Johnny Cash Memorial Fund was founded.
In 1999, Cash received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Johnny Cash #31 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In 2003, Cash was named #1 in a list of the 40 Greatest Men of Country Music.
In a tribute to Cash after his death, country music singer Gary Allan included the song “Nickajack Cave (Johnny Cash’s Redemption)” on his 2005 album entitled Tough All Over. The song chronicles Cash hitting rock bottom and subsequently resurrecting his life and career.
The main street in Hendersonville, Tennessee, Highway 31E, is known as “Johnny Cash Parkway”.
On November 2 – November 4, 2007 the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin’ Festival was held in Starkville, Mississippi. Starkville, where Cash was arrested over 40 years earlier and held overnight at the city jail on May 11, 1965, inspired Cash to write the song “Starkville City Jail”. The festival, where he was offered a symbolic posthumous pardon, honored Cash’s life and music, and was expected to become an annual event.
In 1998, country singer Mark Collie portrayed Cash for the first time in a short film, “I Still Miss Someone”. Shot mostly in black and white, it attempts to capture a moment in time for Cash during his darkest years, the mid 1960s.
Walk the Line, an Academy Award-winning biopic about Johnny Cash’s life starring Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny and Reese Witherspoon as June (for which she won the 2005 Best Actress Oscar), was released in the United States on November 18, 2005 to considerable commercial success and critical acclaim. Both Phoenix and Witherspoon have won various other awards for their roles, including the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy and Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, respectively. They both performed their own vocals in the film, and Phoenix learned to play guitar for his role as Johnny Cash. Phoenix received the Grammy Award for his contributions to the Walk the Line soundtrack. John Carter Cash, the only child of Johnny and June, was an executive producer on the film.
Ring of Fire, a jukebox musical of the Cash oeuvre, debuted on Broadway on March 12, 2006 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, but closed due to harsh reviews and disappointing sales on April 30, 2006.
The Johnny Cash discography chronicles the output of one of the most prolific recorded music artists of all time, country music singer Johnny Cash. His lengthy career, spanning 1954 to 2003, saw the release of countless albums and singles on several record labels. Over the years, Cash also collaborated with many of the industry’s most notable artists, and received many awards and accolades from different organizations.
Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Cash_discography for **Johnny Cash discography
**and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Cash_Sun_discography for Johnny Cash Sun discography
The Johnny Cash Sun discography details the music recorded by country music legend Johnny Cash and released on Sun Records. From late 1954 to July, 1958, Cash recorded for Sun, a label founded by Sam Phillips and located at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.
|1957||Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar|
|1958||Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous|
|1960||Sings Hank Williams|
|1961||Now Here’s Johnny Cash|
|1962||All Aboard the Blue Train|
|1964||The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash|
|1969||Original Golden Hits, Volume I|
|1969||Story Songs of the Trains and Rivers|
|1970||The Singing Storyteller|
|1970||Original Golden Hits, Volume II|
|1970||Johnny Cash: The Legend|
|1970||The Rough Cut King of Country Music|
|1970||Sunday Down South|
|1971||Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music|
|1971||Original Golden Hits, Volume III|
Cash recorded the bulk of his catalog with Columbia. Many of these albums feature previously released material paired with new material.
|US Country||US 200|
|1959||The Fabulous Johnny Cash|
|1959||Hymns by Johnny Cash|
|1959||Songs of Our Soil|
|1960||Ride This Train|
|1960||Now, There Was a Song!|
|1961||The Lure of the Grand Canyon|
|1962||Hymns from the Heart|
|1962||The Sound of Johnny Cash|
|1963||Blood, Sweat, and Tears||80|
|1963||Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash||1||26||Gold|
|1963||The Christmas Spirit||7|
|1964||I Walk the Line||1||53||Gold|
|1964||Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian||2||47|
|1965||Orange Blossom Special||3||49|
|1965||Sings the Ballads of the True West|
|1966||Everybody Loves a Nut||5||88|
|1966||Happiness Is You||10|
|1967||Carryin’ On with Johnny Cash and June Carter||5||194|
|1968||From Sea to Shining Sea||9|
|1968||At Folsom Prison (live)||1||13||3× Multi-Platinum|
|1968||Heart of Cash|
|1968||The Holy Land||6||54|
|1969||At San Quentin (live)||1||1||3× Multi-Platinum|
|1970||Hello, I’m Johnny Cash||1||6||Gold|
|1970||The Johnny Cash Show (live)||1||44||Gold|
|1970||I Walk the Line – Movie Soundtrack||9||176|
|1970||Little Fauss and Big Halsy – Movie Soundtrack|
|1971||Man in Black||1||56|
|1972||A Thing Called Love||2||112|
|1972||America: A 200-Year Salute in Story and Song||3||176|
|1972||The Johnny Cash Family Christmas|
|1973||På Österåker (live)|
|1973||Any Old Wind That Blows||5||188|
|1973||The Gospel Road||12|
|1973||Johnny Cash and His Woman||32|
|1974||Ragged Old Flag||16|
|1974||Junkie and the Juicehead Minus Me||48|
|1975||The Children’s Album|
|1975||Sings Precious Memories|
|1975||John R. Cash|
|1975||Look at Them Beans||38|
|1975||Strawberry Cake (live)||33|
|1976||One Piece at a Time||2||185|
|1977||The Last Gunfighter Ballad||29|
|1978||I Would Like to See You Again||23|
|1982||The Adventures of Johnny Cash|
Independent label Gospel / Christmas albums
|1979||A Believer Sings the Truth||43||Cachet|
|1986||Believe in Him||Word|
|1991||Johnny Cash Country Christmas||Delta|
|1992||Return to the Promised Land||Renaissance|
Cash was signed with Mercury between 1987 and 1990, and recorded four albums of mostly new material, and also rerecorded many of his classic Sun and Columbia songs.
|1987||Johnny Cash Is Coming to Town||36|
|1987||Classic Cash: Hall of Fame Series|
|1988||Water from the Wells of Home||48|
|1989||Boom Chicka Boom|
|1991||The Mystery of Life||70|
|1996||Johnny Cash: The Hits||75|
|1998||The Best of Johnny Cash|
|2000||The Mercury Years|
|2002||Johnny Cash & Friends|
The American Recordings series is produced by Rick Rubin and contains the only newly-recorded material released after 1990. These albums are known for their relaxed, laidback feel and for featuring many covers and collaborations with other well-known artists. One song from these sessions, “A Satisfied Mind,” was used in the Tarantino movie Kill Bill Volume 2 and has only been released on the soundtrack.
|US Country||US 200|
|1998||VH1 Storytellers: Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson (live)||25||150||–|
|2000||American III: Solitary Man||11||88||–|
|2002||American IV: The Man Comes Around||2||22||Platinum|
|2004||My Mother’s Hymn Book||27||194||–|
|2006||American V: A Hundred Highways||1||1||Gold|
Awards and honors
Cash received multiple Country Music Awards, Grammys, and other awards, in categories ranging from vocal and spoken performances to album notes and videos.
In a career that spanned almost five decades, Cash was the personification of country music to many people around the world. Cash was a musician who was not tied to a single genre. He recorded songs that could be considered rock and roll, blues, rockabilly, folk, and gospel, and exerted an influence on each of those genres. Moreover, he had the unique distinction among country artists of having “crossed over” late in his career to become popular with an unexpected demographic, young indie and alternative rock fans. His diversity was evidenced by his presence in three major music halls of fame: the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (1977), the Country Music Hall of Fame (1980), and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1992). Only thirteen performers are in both of the last two, and only Hank Williams Sr., Jimmie Rodgers, and Bill Monroe share the honor with Cash of being in all three. However, only Cash was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the regular manner, unlike the other country members, who were inducted as “early influences.” His pioneering contribution to the genre has also been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1996. Cash stated that his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, in 1980, was his greatest professional achievement.
In 2008, Johnny Cash was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
Hall of Fame Inductions
- 1977 – Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
- 1980 – Country Music Hall of Fame
- 1992 – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Country Music Association
- 1968 – Album of the Year, At Folsom Prison
- 1969 – Vocal Group of the Year, with June Carter
- 1969 – Male Vocalist of the Year
- 1969 – Single of the Year, “A Boy Named Sue”
- 1969 – Album of the Year, At San Quentin
- 1969 – Entertainer of the Year
- 2003 – Music Video of the Year, “Hurt”
- 2003 – Single of the Year, “Hurt”
- 2003 – Album of the Year, American IV: The Man Comes Around
- 1968 – Best Country & Western Performance, Duet, Trio Or Group, “Jackson” (with June Carter Cash)
- 1969 – Best Male Country Vocal, “Folsom Prison Blues”
- 1969 – Best Album Notes, At Folsom Prison
- 1970 – Best Male Country Vocal, “A Boy Named Sue”
- 1970 – Best Country Song, “A Boy Named Sue” by Shel Silverstein
- 1970 – Best Album Notes (written by Cash) for Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline
- 1971 – Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, “If I Were A Carpenter”, with June Carter Cash
- 1987 – Best Spoken Word or Non-musical Album, Interviews From the Class of ‘55 Recording Sessions, with Carl Perkins, Chips Moman, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison and Sam Phillips
- 1995 – Best Contemporary Folk Album, American Recordings
- 1998 – Best Country Album, Unchained
- 1999 – Lifetime Achievement
- 2001 – Best Country Male Vocal, “Solitary Man”
- 2002 – Best Country Album, Timeless: Hank Williams Tribute (Cash contributed a cover of “I Dreamed About Mama Last Night”)
- 2003 – Best Country Male Vocal, “Give My Love To Rose”
- 2004 – Best Short Form Video, “Hurt”, directed by Mark Romanek
- 2006 – Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package, “The Legend”
- 2008 – Best Short Form Video, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”
Americana Music Association
- 2002 – First Amendment Center “Spirit of Americana” Free Speech Award
- 2003 – Song of the Year (Artist), “Hurt”
- 2003 – Album of the Year, American IV: The Man Comes Around (Lost Highway)
In 2003 the video for Hurt, which was a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song, was nominated for six MTV awards and won the Best Cinematography category.
- 1985 – Single of the Year, “Highwayman” (with The Highwaymen) – Academy Of Country Music
- 1989 – Living Legend – Music City News
- 1991 – The Spoken Word – Angel Award (Cash’s reading of the New Testament)
- 2004 – Recorded Event Of The Year – International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA)
- “Johnny Cash’s Story,” Country Music Hall of Fame
- Dalton, Stephanie. 15 Jan 2006. “Walking the line back in time.” Scotsman.com. Retrieved 28 June 2007.
- Cash, John R. with Patrick Carr. (1997) Johnny Cash, the Autobiography. Harper Collins. p.3.
- Cash, Johnny. Cash: The Autobiography
- Gross, Terry. All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists
- Zwonitzer, Mark (2002). Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone, The Carter Family and Their Legacy in American Music. Simon & Schuster.
- The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show 1969-1971, Disc 1 (of 2), Reverse Angle Production, 2007
- The good, bad and ugly of proposed uniforms. Navy Times. 4 October 2004.
- Johnny Cash: The Rebel
- Fretbase, The Guitars of Johnny Cash
- Rolling Stone Magazine, The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, 2004 (bibliographic information is needed for this reference)
- “Johnny Cash Final Performances Part 2“. YouTube. Retrieved on 2008-07-06.
- “Johnny Cash Final Performances Part 3“. YouTube. Retrieved on 2008-07-06.
- “Fire Reported at Johnny Cash Tenn. Home“. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2007-12-31.
- Johnny Cash profile at SOS Children’s Villages
- Johnny Cash profile at SOS Children’s Villages – USA
- Kristofferson, Kris. “31) Johnny Cash“. Issue 946. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2007-12-31.
- “The Immortals: The First Fifty“. Issue 946. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2007-12-31.
- “Mississippi town to honor the ‘Man in Black’“. MSNBC. Retrieved on 2007-12-31.
- “RHOF Inductees with Certificates“. Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Retrieved on 2007-12-31.
- “Johnny Cash“. Hit Parade Hall of Fame. Retrieved on 2007-12-31.
- Gross, Terry (2006). All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists. Hyperion. ISBN 1-4013-0010-3.
- Millier, Bill. (retrieved September 7, 2004). Johnny Cash Awards. JohnnyCash.com.
- Peneny, D.K. (retrieved September 7, 2004). Johnny Cash. The History of Rock and Roll.
- Streissguth, Michael. Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: The Making of a Masterpiece, Da Capo Press (2004). ISBN 0-306-81338-6.
- Urbanski, Dave. The Man Comes Around: The Spiritual Journey of Johnny Cash. New York: Relevant Books. ISBN 0-9729276-7-0.
- Cash, Johnny; Patrick Carr (1997). Cash: The Autobiography. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-06-101357-9.
- Cash, Johnny. Man in Black: His Own Story in His Own Words. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975. ISBN 99924-31-58-X.
- Cash, Johnny, with Patrick Carr. Cash: The Autobiography. New York: Harper Collins, 1997. ISBN 0-06-101357-9.
- Cash, Johnny, with June Carter Cash. Love liner notes. New York: Sony, 2000. ASIN B00004TB8A.
- Turner, Steve. The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love, and Faith of an American Legend. Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 2004. (The Authorized Biography).
- Official Website
- Official Johnny Cash Lost Highway Artist Page
- at the Country Music Hall of Fame
- at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame
- at the Hit Parade Hall of Fame
- Johnny Cash at the Internet Movie Database
- Johnny Cash’s sister Joanne talks to Philip Halcrow of The War Cry about life with Johnny
- Larry King’s November 26, 2002 interview With Johnny Cash on CNN