Stephen O’Malley


Posted: Sep 12, 2003


:( :(

"I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die."

CASH is one of the original and longest standing anti-establishment, one of the original punk rockers.... a huge inspiration to many, especially indirectly.

He will be missed!


9/11 was an even sadder day this year.

Country singing legend Johnny Cash dies of complications from diabetes

By John Gerome
5:02 a.m. September 12, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Johnny Cash, "The Man in Black" who became a towering figure in American music with such hits as "Folsom Prison Blues," "I Walk the Line," and "A Boy Named Sue," died Friday. He was 71.

"Johnny died due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in respiratory failure," Cash's manager, Lou Robin, said in a statement issued by Baptist Hospital in Nashville.

He said Cash died at the hospital at 3 a.m. EDT.

"I hope that friends and fans of Johnny will pray for the Cash family to find comfort during this very difficult time," Robin said.

Cash had been released from the hospital Wednesday after a two-week stay for treatment of an unspecified stomach ailment. The illness caused him to miss last month's MTV Music awards, where he had been nominated in seven categories.

He had battled a disease of the nervous system, autonomic neuropathy, and pneumonia in recent years.

"Johnny Cash was not only a giant in our business, but he was one of those guys who had grown to become a cultural icon in American," Ed Benson, executive director of the Country Music Association, told WTVF-TV in Nashville. "People associated him with values that I think they held near and dear to their hearts."

Dozens of hit records like "Folsom Prison Blues," "I Walk the Line," and "Sunday Morning Coming Down" defined Cash's persona: a haunted, dignified, resilient spokesman for the working man and downtrodden.

Cash's deeply lined face fit well with his unsteady voice, which was limited in range but used to great effect to sing about prisoners, heartaches, and tales of everyday life. He wrote much of his own material, and was among the first to record the songs of Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson.

"One Piece at a Time" was about an assembly line worker who built a car out of parts stolen from his factory. "A Boy Named Sue" was a comical story of a father who gives his son a girl's name to make him tough. "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" told of the drunken death of an American Indian soldier who helped raised the American flag at Iwo Jima during World War II, but returned to harsh racism in America.

Cash said in his 1997 autobiography "Cash" that he tried to speak for "voices that were ignored or even suppressed in the entertainment media, not to mention the political and educational establishments."

His career spanned generations, with each finding something of value in his simple records, many of which used his trademark rockabilly rhythm.

"He just lit up a room and he's going to be missed," actor George Clooney said Friday during an appearance on NBC's "Today."

Cash was a peer of Elvis Presley when rock 'n' roll was born in Memphis in the 1950s, and he scored hits like "Cry! Cry! Cry!" during that era. He had a longtime friendship and recorded with Dylan, who has cited Cash as a major influence.

He won 11 Grammys – most recently in 2003, when "Give My Love To Rose" earned him honors as best male country vocal performance – and numerous Country Music Association awards. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980 and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

His second wife, June Carter Cash, and daughter Roseanne Cash also were successful singers. June Carter Cash, who co-wrote Cash's hit "Ring of Fire" and partnered with her husband in hits such as "Jackson," died in May.

The late 1960s and '70s were Cash's peak commercial years, and he was host of his own ABC variety show from 1969-71. In later years, he was part of the Highwayman supergroup with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kristofferson.

In the 1990s, he found a new artistic life recording with rap and hard rock producer Rick Rubin on the label American Recordings. And he was back on the charts in with the 2002 album "American IV: the Man Comes Around."

Most recently, Cash was recognized for his cover of the Nine Inch Nails song "Hurt" with seven nominations at last month's MTV Video Music Awards. He had hoped to attend the event but couldn't because of his hospital stay. The video won for best cinematography.

He also wrote books including two autobiographies, and acted in films and television shows.

In his 1971 hit "Man in Black," Cash said his black clothing symbolized the downtrodden people in the world. Cash had been "The Man in Black" since he joined the Grand Ole Opry at age 25.

"Everybody was wearing rhinestones, all those sparkle clothes and cowboy boots," he said in 1986. "I decided to wear a black shirt and pants and see if I could get by with it. I did and I've worn black clothes ever since."

John R. Cash was born Feb. 26, 1932, in Kingsland, Ark., one of seven children. When he was 12, his 14-year-old brother and hero, Jack, died after an accident while sawing oak trees into fence posts. The tragedy had a lasting impact on Cash, and he later pointed to it as a possible reason his music was frequently melancholy.

He worked as a custodian and enlisted in the Air Force, learning guitar while stationed in Germany, before launching his music career after his 1954 discharge.

"All through the Air Force, I was so lonely for those three years," Cash told The Associated Press during a 1996 interview. "If I couldn't have sung all those old country songs, I don't think I could have made it."

Cash launched his career in Memphis, performing on radio station KWEM. He auditioned with Sun Records, ultimately recording the single "Hey Porter," which became a hit.

Sun Records also launched the careers of Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and others.

"Folsom Prison Blues," went to No. 4 on the country charts in 1956, and featured Cash's most famous couplet: "I shot a man in Reno/ just to watch him die."

Cash recorded theme albums celebrating the railroads and the Old West, and decrying the mistreatment of American Indians. Two of his most popular albums were recorded live at prisons. Along the way he notched 14 No. 1 country music hits.

Because of Cash's frequent performances in prisons and his rowdy lifestyle early in his career, many people wrongly thought he had served prison time. He never did, though he battled addictions to pills on and off throughout his life.

He blamed fame for his vulnerability to drug addiction.

"When I was a kid, I always knew I'd sing on the radio someday. I never thought about fame until it started happening to me," he said in 1988. "Then it was hard to handle. That's why I turned to pills."

He credited June Carter Cash, whom he married in 1968, with helping him stay off drugs, though he had several relapses over the years and was treated at the Betty Ford Center in California in 1984.

June Carter Cash was the daughter of country music great Mother Maybelle Carter, and the mother of singer Carlene Carter, whose father was country singer Carl Smith. Together, June Carter and Cash had one child, John Carter Cash. He is a musician and producer.

Singer Rosanne Cash is Johnny Cash's daughter from his first marriage, to Vivian Liberto. Their other three children were Kathleen, Cindy and Tara. They divorced in 1966.

In March 1998, Cash made headlines when his California-based record company, American Recordings, took out an advertisement in the music trade magazine Billboard. The full-page ad celebrated Cash's 1998 Grammy award for best country album for "Unchained." The ad showed an enraged-looking Cash in his younger years making an obscene gesture to sarcastically illustrate his thanks to country radio stations and "the country music establishment in Nashville," which he felt had unfairly cast him aside.

Jennings, a close friend, once said of Cash: "He's been like a brother to me. He's one of the greatest people in the world."

Cash once credited his mother, Carrie Rivers Cash, with encouraging him to pursue a singing career.

"My mother told me to keep on singing, and that kept me working through the cotton fields. She said God has his hand on you. You'll be singing for the world someday."

Cash lived in Hendersonville, Tenn., just outside of Nashville. He also had a home in Jamaica.


1957 - Johnny Cash and His Hot and Blue Guitar
1958 - Johnny Cash Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous
1959 - The Fabulous Johnny Cash
1959 - Hymns by Johnny Cash
1959 - Songs of Our Soil
1959 - Greatest Johnny Cash
1960 - Johnny Cash Sings Hank Williams
1960 - Ride This Train
1960 - Now There Was A Song
1961 - Now, Here's Johnny Cash
1962 - Hymns from the Heart
1962 - The Sound of Johnny Cash
1962 - All Aboard the Blue Train
1963 - Blood, Sweat and Tears
1963 - Ring of Fire
1963 - The Christmas Spirit
1964 - Keep on the Sunny Side
1964 - I Walk the Line
1964 - The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash
1964 - Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian
1965 - Orange Blossom Special
1965 - Ballads of the True West
1965 - Mean as Hell
1966 - Everybody Loves a Nut
1966 - Happiness is You
1967 - Johnny Cash & June Carter: Jackson
1967 - Johnny Cash's Greatest Hits
1967 - Carryin' on with Cash and Carter
1968 - From Sea to Shining Sea
1968 - At Folsom Prison
1968 - The Holy Land
1969 - At San Quentin
1969 - Johnny Cash
1969 - Original Golden Hits, Volumne I
1969 - Original Golden Hits, Volume II
1969 - Story Songs of the Trains and Rivers
1969 - Got Rhythm
1970 - Johnny Cash Sings Folsom Prison Blues
1970 - The Blue Train
1970 - Johnny Cash Sings the Greatest Hits
1970 - Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash: Jackson
1970 - Johnny Cash: The Legend
1970 - The Walls of a Prison
1970 - Sunday Down South
1970 - Showtime
1970 - Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
1970 - The Singing Storyteller
1970 - The World of Johnny Cash
1970 - Johnny Cash Sings I Walk the Line
1970 - The Rough Cut King of Country Music
1970 - The Johnny Cash Show
1970 - I Walk the Line - Movie Soundtrack
1970 - Little Fauss and Big Halsy - Movie Soundtrack
1971 - Man in Black
1971 - Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis Sing Hank Williams
1971 - Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music
1971 - The Johnny Cash Collection: Greatest Hits Volume II
1971 - Understand Your Man
1971 - Original Golden Hits, Volume III
1972 - A Thing Called Love
1972 - Give My Love to Rose
1972 - America
1972 - The Johnny Cash Songbook
1972 - Christmas: The Johnny Cash Family
1973 - The Gospel Road
1973 - Any Old Wind That Blows
1973 - Now, There Was a Song
1973 - The Fabulous Johnny Cash
1973 - Johnny Cash and His Woman
1973 - Sunday Morning Coming Down
1973 - Ballads of the American Indian
1974 - Ragged Old Flag
1974 - Five Feet High and Rising
1974 - The Junkie and the Juicehead Minus Me
1975 - Johnny Cash Sings Precious Memories
1975 - The Children's Album
1975 - John R. Cash
1975 - Johnny Cash at Osteraker Pirsion
1975 - Look at Them Beans
1975 - Strawberry Cake
1976 - One Piece at a Time
1976 - Destination Victoria Station
1977 - The Last Gunfighter Ballad
1977 - The Rambler
1978 - I Would Like to See You Again
1978 - Greatest Hits, Volume III
1978 - Gone Girl
1979 - Johnny Cash - Silver
1979 - A Believer Sings the Truth
1980 - Rockabilly Blues
1980 - Classic Christmas
1981 - The Baron
1981 - Encore
1982 - The Survivors
1982 - A Believer Sings the Truth, Volume I
1982 - The Adventures of Johnny Cash
1983 - Johnny Cash - Biggest Hits
1983 - Johnny 99
1983 - Songs of Love and Life
1984 - I Believe
1985 - Highwayman
1986 - Rainbow
1986 - Class of '55: Cash, Perkins, Orbison & Lewis
1986 - Heroes: Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings
1986 - Believe in Him
1987 - Johnny Cash: Columbia Records 1958-1986
1987 - Johnny Cash is Coming to Town
1988 - Classic Cash
1988 - Water From the Wells of Home
1990 - Johnny Cash: Patriot
1990 - Boom Chicka Boom
1990 - Johnny Cash: The Man in Black 1954-1958
1991 - The Mystery of Life
1991 - Johnny Cash: The Man in Black 1959-1962
1991 - Come Along and Ride this Train
1992 - The Essential Johnny Cash
1994 - American Recordings
1995 - Highwaymen: The Road Goes on Forever
1996 - Unchained
1996 - Johnny Cash: The Hits
1998 - VH1 Storytellers: Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson
1998 - Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison and San Quentin
1998 - Johnny Cash: Crazy Country
1998 - Johnny Cash: Timeless Inspiration
1998 - Johnny 99
1999 - Johnny Cash: Super Hits
1999 - Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins: I Walk the Line/Little Fauss and Big Halsy
1999 - Just as I am
1999 - Rickabilly Blues
1999 - Cash on Delivery: A Tribute
1999 - The Legendary Johnny Cash
1999 - Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash: It's All in the Family
1999 - Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison
1999 - Sixteen Biggest Hits
2000 - Love, God and Murder
2000 - At San Quentin
2000 - Super Hits
2000 - American III: Solitary Man
2001 - Sixteen Biggest Hits: Volumne II
2002 - American IV: The Man Comes Around


CASH website