Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Johnny Cash: The Man in Black

Johnny Cash, originally from Kingsland, Arkansas, began his career in music in Memphis, Tennessee as a rockabilly performer with Sam Phillip’s legendary Sun Records label which had among the musicians on its roster, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

Cash recorded his first single, “Cry, Cry, Cry,” in 1955, and his first big hit, “I Walk the Line,” in 1956. These early singles would be collected with others on his debut album, “Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar!” in 1956. In the late Fifties, Cash would switch to country music and record a number of classic songs including, “Big River,” “Ring of Fire,” “Give My Love to Rose,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Long Black Veil,”  and “I Still Miss Someone.”

In the late Sixties, Cash recorded two live albums in prisons, “At Folsom Prison” (1968) and “At San Quentin” (1969). The tremendous popularity of these albums led to a successful TV variety show which was canceled after only two seasons. Both albums have been described as two of the best live albums of music recorded in the 20th century.
In 1971, Cash recorded the album, “Man in Black.” The title track would later be attached to Cash as a title of sorts. Cash’s career was in decline, however, and the rest of the Seventies would be lean in terms of hit recordings. The mid-Eighties saw Cash return to prominence with the outlaw country group, “The Highwaymen,” but solo success continued to escape him. In 1986, Cash entered The Betty Ford Clinic for addiction to painkillers.

In 1994, Cash teamed up with producer Rick Rubin, and recorded an album of mostly cover songs, “American Recordings.” The album introduced Cash’s music to a whole new generation of fans. Three more critically acclaimed volumes of American Recordings would follow.

Cash had been sick with diabetes for several years, but he still managed to record the fourth American Recordings album which was released in 2002.Cash succumbed to diabetes the following year.
Early Johnny Cash Promotional Photo