|Thursday, 22 May 2008 19:13|
Johnny Cash - The Man in Black
Born: February 26, 1932(1932-02-26), Kingsland, Arkansas, U.S.
Died: September 12, 2003 Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Circumstances of Death: Respiratory failure from diabetes
Notable because: Became ambassador for the rights of America's less fortunate, and was widely loved and respected for it. Wrote possibly the greatest opening line in popular music. 'I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.' Was a heavy drinker and for some time remained addicted to amphetamines and barbiturates.
Johnny Cash 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 voice, the boom-chick-a-boom or "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," "That Old Wheel" (a duet with Hank Williams Jr.), "Cocaine Blues," and "Man in Black".
He also recorded several humorous songs, such as "One Piece at a Time," "The One on the Right Is on the Left," "Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog," "A Boy Named Sue," and a duet with June Carter called "Jackson"; and various railroad songs, such as "Rock Island Line" and "Orange Blossom Special". He sold over 90 million albums in his nearly fifty-year career and came to occupy a "commanding position in music history".
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 Magazines 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.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:59|