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Johnny Cash Biography

Posted On July 20th, 2010 By Celebrity Biographies

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash is often referred to as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. He was an American singer, actor, songwriter and author. Although he is majorly remembered for his contribution in country music, his tunes have also spanned across different genres such as rock and roll. He is specifically recognized for his profound, characteristic deep baritone voice coupled with a humble demeanor. His concerts typically start with his introduction line ‘Hi this is Johnny Cash’ and then usually proceed with ‘Folsom Prison Blues’.

Early Life

Johnny Cash was born on February 26th, 1932 in Kingsland, Arkansas. He belonged to a royal descent from Scotland, however he discovered this only after searching for his ancestry. In his younger days, he believed that he was majorly Irish and partly belongs to Native America. Even after learning about his ancestry, he still remained compassionate towards Native Americans and this was clearly portrayed in his songs from the album called ‘Bitter Tears’.

Johnny Cash was given the name J.R. Cash since his parents could not agree on a single name. At the time when he enlisted for US Air Force, he had to change his name since the military would not accept initials for a name. Hence, he took a name John R. Cash. When he signed the Sun records in 1955, he adopted ‘Johnny’ as his stage name.

Johnny was one of the seven children to parents Ray and Carrie Cash. Tommy Cash, his younger brother, also became one of the successful country artists. He started singing songs while working with his family in cotton farms at the age of 5. His family experienced a lot of personal and economic struggles during the ‘Great Depression’, which was reflected in a majority of his songs. His early memories of music were dominated by radio and gospel music. His mother as well his childhood friend introduced him to writing songs and playing guitar. He used to sing at the local radio station in childhood and years later, he released an album of gospel songs as a tribute called ‘My Mother’s Hymn book’. Cash was highly influenced by the traditional Irish songs.

Later on, Cash was enlisted in the US Air Force and was posted in Landsberg, Germany as a code intercept operator, where he developed his first band called ‘The Landsburg Barbarians’. He then returned to Texas after being respectfully released as a sergeant.

Marriages

During his Air Force training in San Antonio, Johnny met Vivian Liberto at a skating rink when she was only 17. The couple dated for three weeks before Cash left for Germany and stayed in touch thereafter. After being discharged, they got married on 7th August, 1954. They had four daughters out of this marriage. However with increasing drug and alcohol abuse, constant alliance with other women, extreme closeness with June Carter and several other affairs urged Liberto to file for a divorce in the year 1966.
Jonny Cash finally proposed June Carter, a fellow country singer he met 12 years ago, in a live performance. They got married on 1st March 1968 and they had one child out of the marriage. The couple worked together and produced some of the biggest hits of all times ‘Ring of Fire. They won two Grammys for their duets, during their professional relationship of 35 years.

Career

After getting married to Liberto, the couple moved to Tennessee. He visited the Sun records studio with the hope of getting a music contract. However when he met the producer Sam Phillips, he was told that his gospel songs were unmarketable. With a lot of improvements, he finally impressed the producer with songs like ‘Cry, Cry, Cry’ and ‘Hey Porter’, which were released by Sun studios in 1955.

His next record called ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ made it to the top 5 country songs whereas his other record called ‘I Walk the Line’ topped the country charts and was entered the top 20 of the pop charts. After the success of ‘Home of the Blues’ in 1957, he recorded an album with Sun. Although he was recording best-selling songs, he felt constrained with a small label. Thereafter he signed an attractive deal with Columbia Records and recorded one of his biggest hits called ‘Don’t take your guns’. During the 1960’s, he toured with the Carter Family. In the year 1961, he acted in a film called ‘5 Minutes to Live’ which was later released as ‘Door-to-Door Maniac’.

Last Years and Death

Johnny Cash was diagnosed with Shy-Drager Syndrome, a neurodegenerative disease, in the year 1997. Later on, he was diagnosed of autonomic neuropathy, often linked with diabetes. Due to this illness, he was forced to shorten his touring. In 1998, he has to be hospitalized due to severe pneumonia that damaged his lungs to a great extent. His last two American albums called ‘The Solitary Man’ and ‘The Man Comes Around’ released in 2002 contained his response to the diseases in the form of songs.

His 73-years old wife June Carter died on 15th May 2003 and had asked him to continue recording. Cash performed a few shows thereafter. On 5th July 2003, he gave his last public performance as a tribute to his wife. Four months after the death of his wife June Carter, his health worsened due to diabetes and was hospitalized at a hospital in Nashville. He died at 2am on 12th September 2003. Cash was buried in Hendersonville Memory gardens, next to his wife. One of his final works called ‘A Hundred Highways’ produced by Rick Rubin was released after his death on 4th July 2006. The album was an instant hit and got the first position on the charts. On 26th February 2010, Rick Rubin along with the Cash Family released another posthumous record called ‘Aint No Grave’ to mark the 78th birthday of Johnny Cash.


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