Johnny Cash, born February 26, 1932, was an American country musician, songwriter, actor, and author. Cash began his career in 1954 and is now a musical icon and legend. Although he had a rough start and multiple bumps along the way, he pushed through to become the celebrated ‘Man in Black.’ Cash’s legacy is enviable, and his relevance within and outside Country music is still visible even in death. So, join us as we celebrate his special day right here!
John R. Cash
Johnny, The Man in Black
February 26, 1932
September 12, 2003 (age 71)
Johnny Cash, born on February 26, 1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas, is a widely celebrated name in the music industry. His impact on music transcends genre and is immeasurable. Cash still has multitudes of fans worldwide who find bliss in his music and draw from his experience. He was and will always be a musical genius. Cash was the middle child of seven. His father, Ray Cash, and his mother, Carrie Cloverlee, were poor cotton farmers who barely made ends meet. Cash was primarily English and Scottish, however, he has Cherokee lineage too. He was a Pisces, raised in a deeply religious household. He started playing songs at age 12, and at 18, he got enlisted in the Airforce. In 1954, after four years of service, Cash was honorably discharged. He married his first wife, Vivian Liberto a month later, and the pair moved to Memphis, Tennessee.
Cash decided it was time to pursue music. He went to Sun Records and auditioned with gospel songs. He wasn’t successful as the producer stopped recording gospel songs. However, in 1955, he released his first two songs, ‘Hey Porter’ and ‘Cry Cry,’ after winning over the producer. Cash released ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ next, and ‘I Walk the Line’ peaked at number one on the country charts, but he was considering leaving Sun Records. He left in 1958 after releasing a long-playing album and signed with Columbia Records the same year. His first release with Columbia Records was the smash hit ‘Don’t Take Your Guns to Town.’ Cash had a habit of only adorning black clothes in the early stage of his career. He was nicknamed ‘The Undertaker’ in the ‘60s and ‘The Man in Black’ in the early ‘70s. He became addicted to amphetamines in the ‘60s and had erratic behavior. He even burned down the Los Padres National Forest during a camping trip — by accident, of course, but under the influence.
These episodes cultivated an outlaw persona for Cash, and he was reaching a destructive level of drug addiction. Despite his vices, Cash continued to gain success. In 1967, he made a duet with June Carter called ‘Jackson.’ The performance won a Grammy in 1968. Cash went on to sing in prisons, release multiple records, and win endless awards. By June 1969, he starred in his T.V. show called “The Johnny Cash Show” on A.B.C. for two years. Cash went on to win 18 Grammys, seven Hall of Fame inductions, nine C.M.A. awards, and several others for his celebrated discography. However, following multiple illnesses, the Cash ride ended on September 12, 2003. He was a legendary performer, country musician, and icon. He had four daughters from his first marriage to Liberto, which ended in 1966, and one child with his singer second wife, June Carter. He also had two step-children.
Courtesy of Sun Records, Cash releases ‘Hey Porter,’ and ‘Cry Cry’ in June.
Cash leaves Sun Records to join Columbia Records because of creative differences and royalty percentage.
Cash wins a Grammy award for ‘Best Country & Western Performance, Duet, Trio or Group’ for ‘Jackson’ with June Carter.
Cash stars on his eponymous show for two years.
At 48, Cash becomes the youngest living inductee of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Cash gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Why We Love Johnny Cash
His innovative sound
Cash’s sound wasn’t like the Country Music of his time. He had a unique storytelling ability, and his sound was fresh.
He fought his demons
Cash was plagued with demons of alcoholism and bad parenting. However, he fought them long enough. He lived long to see his impact on music and his fans.
He loved his wife
Cash’s relationship with Carter was beautiful to watch. He adored her so much.
5 Surprising Facts
He wrote poems
Cash wrote more than songs; he also wrote poems.
He was a minister
Cash came from a very religious background, and he got a degree in theology and became a minister — he even presided at his daughter’s wedding.
He had been arrested
Cash had been arrested seven times for different reasons, from drug-related charges to misdemeanors.
His real name isn’t Johnny Cash
Cash was born ‘J.R.’ because his parents couldn’t settle on a first name; he bore ‘J.R.’ all through his childhood before picking ‘John’ in the Air Force.
His brother died in a saw accident
Cash’s brother, Jack, was pulled into a saw table, which cut his midsection and he died from the injury a week later.
Johnny Cash FAQs
What were Johnny Cash’s last words?
It is rumored that his last words were “I hear the train a-coming.”
What was Johnny Cash’s last song?
‘Like the 309’ is the last song written by Cash.
Who received Johnny Cash’s wealth?
Cash’s estimated wealth at the time of his death was $120 million which he willed in its entirety to his son, John.
Johnny Cash’s birthday dates