Johnny Cash (born 26.2.1932)
Johnny Cash was an influential American songwriter, as well as an actor and an author.
Johnny Cash: Childhood
Johnny Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas and was raised by his parents, Ray and Carrie Cash in Dyess, Arkansas. He was registered as JR Cash, as his parents could not decide on a name, only on initials. When he joined the US Army, however, they would not allow initials, so he was forced to adopt the name John R. Cash. When he started performing, he used the name Johnny Cash.
Johnny Cash had six siblings, of whom Tommy was also a successful country music artist. The Cash family's financial struggles inspired many of Johnny's songs, including 'Five Feet High and Rising' which depicted the tale of a flood on his family's farm. His brother Jack died after being pulled into a table saw and Johnny suffered tremendous guilt over the incident.
Johnny Cash: Music
Johnny Cash moved to Memphis with his then-wife Vivian in 1954. He studied to become a radio announcer and at night, he would play guitar with Marshall Grant and Luther Perkins (known as the Tennessee Two). Cash eventually plucked up the courage to audition for Sam Phillips at Sun Records but was initially unsuccessful. Eventually, he won Phillips over and 'Hey Porter' and 'Cry Cry Cry' were released in 1955.
Johnny Cash became the first Sun Records star to release an LP, following the success of 'Folsom Prison Blues' and 'I Walk the Line'. With Elvis Presley having left Sun Records and Sam Phillips devoting much of his energy to Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash signed a lucrative deal with Columbia Records, with his single 'Don't Take Your Guns to Town' becoming one of his biggest hits.
In the early part of the 1960s, Johnny Cash toured regularly with the Carter Family. He later went on to marry June Carter. In 1961, Cash starred in a film entitled Five Minutes to Live, for which he also wrote the theme tune. The film also starred Ron Howard and Donald Woods.
Johnny Cash once shared an apartment with the musician Waylon Jennings and soon adopted Jennings' love of amphetamines and barbiturates. Despite his burgeoning drug addiction, Johnny Cash's music career went from strength to strength, with 'Ring of Fire' becoming a huge crossover hit.
Cash finally renounced drugs and rediscovered his Christian faith in the late 1960s. His compassion for prisoners was unabated and resulted in two successful live albums recorded in prisons: Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison and Johnny Cash at San Quentin.
In 1969, The Johnny Cash Show began airing on the ABC television network. The Statler Brothers opened every episode of the show, which also featured stars such as Louis Armstrong, Neil Young, Carl Perkins, Kenny Rogers and Bob Dylan. Cash also performed a duet with Dylan on Dylan's country album Nashville Skyline.
Johnny Cash's autobiography, Man In Black, was published in 1975 and sold over 1 million copies. However, his music sales were dwindling. At the age of 48 (in 1980), Johnny Cash became the youngest living inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Yet still, his impact on the country music charts was waning, despite tours with Kris Kristofferson, The Highwaymen and Willie Nelson.
In 1986, Johnny Cash teamed up with Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins at Sun Studios in Memphis to record an album entitled Class of '55.
In the 1990s, Johnny Cash's career enjoyed a renaissance. This was due in part to his appearance singing vocals on 'The Wanderer' on U2's album Zooropa. The producer Rick Rubin approached Cash with the offer of a recording deal with his label American Recordings. With Rubin at the helm, Johnny Cash recorded American Recordings, which would rejuvenate his career and expanded into a series, which featured covers of songs written by contemporary artists such as Nine Inch Nails and Danzig. American III and America IV also reflected on his long-term illness, from which he died in 2003.