On this day (Friday) in 1932, Johnny Cash was born John R. Cash in Kingsland, Arkansas.
He joined the Air Force in 1950 and trained in Texas where he met his first wife, Vivian Liberto. After his time in the service, he formed Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two and landed a record deal with Sun Records, which launched a career that would influence musicians around the world.
After struggles with drugs and alcohol ended his marriage to Vivian and nearly killed him, a turning point came for Johnny in 1967 when he met June Carter. They married a year later and with June’s support, he turned his life around.
Johnny was the father of five children and two step-children including Rosanne Cash, Carlene Carter, Kathy Cash, Rosie Nix Adams, Cindy Cash, Tara Cash and John Carter Cash.
Johnny won multiple CMAs and at least 19 Grammys. He is the only artist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Keith Urban says his first concert was Johnny Cash. “The first concert my parents took me to was Johnny Cash. I think I was five and I just remember seeing this guy in the far distance with this spotlight on him and he started singing and the entire hall just went dead silent. It was a phenomenal experience to see the power of a person with a guitar singing a song.”
Kris Kristofferson says he wouldn’t be where he is today without Johnny Cash. “Well John was probably the biggest reason that I’m standing here today. He was my hero. He was my inspiration and my champion. He stood up for me when a lot of people didn’t.”
John Carter Cash believes music was everything to his parents Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. “Music was instrumental to their peace, their love exactly to who they were, you know, it’s like my mother, she always said, ‘Press on,’ which basically meant to her that in the face of pain and in the face of adversity to continue on with life. And music was a big part of that.”
Billy Bob Thornton recalls how he met Johnny Cash. “Well, you know I actually became friends with Johnny through movies really. He called me one time. This was a long time ago and wanted to know if I’d autograph a copy of One False Move for Him. I couldn’t believe it. ‘Johnny Cash wants my autograph on a movie?’ So, that’s how we met.”
Johnny Van Zant talks about the influence of Johnny Cash. “What can you say, man. He was the Man in Black. He inspired a lot of rock people and a lot of country people, too. You know, they have the old country song, ‘Who’s Gonna [Fill Their Shoes]’ and I don’t know who’s going to take his place.”