John R. Cash
February 26, 1932
September 12, 2003
Place of Birth:
Johnny Cash was considered by many as America's greatest country singer-song writer.
He was one of six children born to Ray and Carrie Cash who were poor sharecroppers.
He was given the initialed name "J.R. Cash" by his parents.
Later when he tried to join the military, Cash was told he couldn't have just initials for his name, so he took the first name "John".
When he was only five years old, Johnny Cash worked picking cotton on 20 acres the family had leased.
By the time he was twelve, he was writing his own songs.
After graduating from high school in 1950, he went to work in Pontiac, Michigan, at an automotive plant.
Cash did not like this work so he joined the US Air Force taking his basic training in Texas.
Here he met his first wife, Vivian Liberto, and they were married after his military discharge in 1954.
Johnny Cash then enrolled in a radio announcing course and played in a trio in the evenings hoping to be "discovered."
He was given an audition by Sun Record's Sam Phillips and came out with two songs, "Hey Porter" and "Cry, Cry, Cry."
It was Phillips who first used the name "Johnny" although Cash thought it made him sound like a youngster.
Over the next few years, Cash came out with several successful songs and albums and, in 1957, appeared on Grand Ole Opry.
On the Opry show, he was dressed all in black and that is where the reference to Johnny Cash as "The Man in Black" originated.
With success, Cash fell into drinking and using drugs and his performances and record sales fell.
He was dropped from the Opry show and had a marriage break-up in 1965 due to his addictions.
Fortunately for Johnny Cash and for country music, he met June Carter, another country star, and they married in 1968.
With Carter's support, Cash went on to recovery and his music sales in the 70's soared again.
Johnny Cash was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980 becoming the youngest to be accepted into the Hall.
June Carter Cash died in May, 2003, and Johnny Cash only four months later.
For detailed research and more information, check out the following:
Academy of Achievement
Johnny Cash Online
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Last Updated: January 20, 2017
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