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Johnny Cash Biography

Johnny Cash was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author. He is one of the most influential and successful artists of all time. During his almost 50-year career, the iconic artist released almost 100 albums, received countless awards and entered the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame. Due to his deep, calm voice, his rebelliousness and his look, he was nicknamed The Man in Black. His signature song is Folsom Prison Blues. He is also known for his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt.

Early Life & Breakthrough

Cash was born in 1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas. He began playing guitar and songwriting at the age of twelve. During his school days, he used to perform on a local radio station. After that, he moved to Detroit and, later, to Germany. In 1954 he married and settled in Memphis. One year later he began recording at Sam Phillips’ label and, in 1956, released the two legendary singles, Folsom Prison Blues and I Walk the Line. Both songs dominated the Country music charts. His fellow artists called him The Undertaker because he usually wore black clothes.

Columbia & Scandals

In 1959, Cash moved to California and signed with Columbia Records. It was the starting point of a  chaotic 9-year period full of alcohol and drugs. Through Columbia, he released numerous successful hits, most noteworthy Ring of Fire. The single topped both the Pop and Country charts. Shortly after, Cash left his family, got arrested because of drugs and had a serious car accident. He ended up moving to Nashville and continued his bad habits for a while.


In Nashville, Johhny Cash recovered fully with the help of June Carter. The who married in 1968 and began working together. They released popular duets such as Jackson, which peaked at number 2 on the Country music chart. Furthermore, they covered Bob Dylan’s It Ain’t Me Babe, which reached number 4 on the Country chart and 58 on the Pop chart. Later that year, Cash released a live album, At Folsom Prison, which became one of his most successful. Additionally, he played a duet with Bob Dylan – Girl From the North Country. In 1969, another live album, Johnny Cash at San Quentin, marked his highest-selling album ever.

During the 70s, Cash continued to record hit songs, among which A Thing Called Love and One Piece at a Time. He also developed an interest in benefit work and charity. In the 80s, the legendary artist collaborated with members of the Million Dollar Quartet, producing The Survivors. Moreover, he formed the band Highwaymen and released the album Highwayman. He rarely performed with them, until they disbanded in the 90s.

Later Years

In 1996, Johnny Cash released another popular album, Unchained, in collaboration with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It featured a series of edgy songs and won him a Grammy award. In 1997, the artist was diagnosed with a degenerative nervous disorder, the Shy-Drager syndrome. He had to stop touring but continued to work. His health seemed to be improving by 2000, and he released two more critically praised albums, Solitary Man and The Man Comes Around. In 2002, the artist won a Grammy for his heartwarming cover of Hurt. Still, in May 2003, Johhny Cash died at 71 years.


Photo source: Discogs