Johnny Cash was born February 26, 1932 in Kingsland,Arkansas. By age three he moved to Dyess. By the time he was 12 years old Cash began writing his own songs,inspired by the country songs he heard on the radio. And while in High School Johnny sang on the Arkansas radio station KLCN. After graduating from college in 1950 Johnny moved to Detroit to work in an auto factory for awhile. Then with the start of the Korean War he enlisted in the Air Force. While in the Service Cash bought his first guitar and taught himself to play. And he also wrote songs ,including "Folsom Prison Blues" Cash got out of the Service in 1954 ,married a Texas woman named Vivian Leberto ,and moved to Memphis. He went to broadcasting school on a GI Bill. At nights he played country music in a trio that consisted of guitarist Luther Perkins and bassist Marshall Grant. In 1955 Johnny Cash landed an audition with Sun Records and its founder Sam Phillips. Cash presented himself as a gospel singer and was turned down. Phillips told him to come back with something more commercial. Cash returned with "Hey Porter" and was accepted. That spawned a string of hits,"Cry Cry Cry", Folsom Prison Blues , I Walk the Line". In 1957 Cash made his Grand Ole Opry debut appearing all in black while other performers wore rhinestone outfits. Eventually,he earned the nickname of "The Man in Black" In 1958 Cash attempted to record a gospel album,but Sun refused to allow him. Sun was also unwilling to increase Cash's record royalties. That was the deciding factor in his signing with Columbia Records. His first single with them was "All Over Again" . Sun continued to release singles and albums of unissued Cash material into the 60's. In 1959 to keep up with the pace of his career Cash began taking amphetamines. By 1961 his drug intake was affecting his work and his number of hit singles and albums declined. In 1963 he moved to New York ,leaving his family behind. Around this time he met June Carter who would help him with his return to the top of the charts with "Ring of Fire" Which she co-wrote with Merle Kilgore. Cash's comeback was short lived as the drug addition got worse. In 1965 he was arrested in El Paso for attempting to smuggle amphetamines into the country in his guitar case. That same year the Grand Ole Opry refused to have him perform. Then in 1966,his wife Vivian filed for divorce. After the divorce Cash moved to Nashville and became friends with June Carter. With her help he was able to shake his addictions. She also converted Cash to fundamentalist Christianity. The pair were married in the Spring of 1968. Starting in 1969 the Johnny Cash Show was televised and ran for two years until 1971. Johnny Cash was reaching a second peak of popularity in 1970 and campaigning for the civic rights of Native Americans and prisoners,as well as working with Billy Graham. In 1980 Johnny Cash became the youngest inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame. However the 80's were hard times for Cash as his record sales continued to decline and he ran into trouble with Columbia. The 1982 album"The Survivors" with Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis was a mild success.1985 Johnny Cash teamed up with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson to form the Highwaymen and released their first album. Cash and Columbia Records ended their relationship in 1986 and he signed with Mercury Nashville. That didn't last long because of fights over stylistic direction. And country radio had begun to favor more contemporary artists. Cash found himself shut out of the charts. In 1990, Cash received a Lifetime Achievement award from NARAS, making him one of a handful of country artists to be so honored by the organization. In 1992, Cash was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to that music form. Later that year he and June were one of the few Nashville country artists to appear at the Dylan 30th anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden. By 1992 his contract with Mercury ended and in 1993 he signed with American Recordings. His first album for that label was produced by Rick Rubin and revived his career. It brought him in touch with the younger generation. Named for Rubin's record label, Cash's American Recordings was a very stark collection of songs with Cash singing along to his simple guitar accompaniment and featured songs by Leonard Cohen, Nick Lowe and Loudon Wainwright III .The second album for the label, Unchained,released in 1996, featured Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and other guest performers including one-time son-in-law,Stuart. After Cash received the Grammy for Unchained, his record company took out a full-page ad in Billboard that featured a photograph of Cash giving a salute to the Music Row folks who had written him off a decade earlier. His VH-1 Storytellers was released in 1998 and the Spring of 2000 compiled "Love ,God ,Murder" a 3 disc CD. Petty and members of the Heartbreakers also appeared on Cash's American III: Solitary Man, a 2000 project that also featured guest appearances by Haggard and Sheryl Crow. The title track, "Solitary Man," won Cash the Grammy for best male country vocal performance. American III was also nominated for the 2001 .Grammy Award for best contemporary folk album. Despite lingering health problems, Cash and Rubin reunited for the 2002 album, American IV: The Man Comes Around. Cash covered such classics as the Beatles' "In My Life" and Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," but the album's highlight was a remake of "Hurt," a song first written and recorded by Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor. The song's lyrics were underscored in a music video directed by Mark Romanek. Another track on the album, "Give My Love to Rose," won a 2003 Grammy for best male country vocal performance. On April 7, 2003, Cash was honored with a career achievement award at the CMT Flameworthy 2003 Video Music Awards. June Carter Cash accepted the award on his behalf during a segment that included a video tribute featuring his daughter, Rosanne Cash, the Dixie Chicks, Kristofferson, Wynonna, U2's Bono, Reznor and Romanek. John and June's last live performance took place on Sept. 13, 2002, at the Americana Music Awards show in Nashville. June Carter Cash died on May 15, 2003,eight days after undergoing heart surgery Following his wife's death, Cash made his final public performance during a surprise appearance on July 5, 2003 at Carter Fold, a rustic amphitheater at the Carter Family Memorial Music Center in Hiltons, Va.On August 28, 2003 Johnny Cash was hospitalized for a stomach condition. He was supposed to appear on the MTV. Video Awards. The video "Hurt". was nominated seven times. The video only won one award for Best Cinematography. Cash spent 2 weeks in the hospital and was released on September 9, 2003 He was planning a trip to California to work with Rubin to decide which of the tracks would be released on the upcoming album. Cash had already recorded approximately 50 songs at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn., for his American V album, expected to be released in early 2004. Late Thursday he was rushed back to the Baptist Hospital in Nashville. and died Friday September 12, 2003 at 1 am. EDT. He was 71. Johnny died due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in respiratory failure," Cash's manager, Lou Robin, said in a statement .In the meantime, plans were already underway to release more than 100 outtakes from his sessions with Rubin for a compilation tentatively titled Unearthed. Set for release around Christmas, Unearthed is expected to feature four discs of previously unreleased material, with a fifth disc of highlights from the earlier albums produced by Rubin. The previously unreleased tracks include a duet with late Clash singer Joe Strummer, one of several recorded by the punk legend and Cash during impromptu sessions last year. Plans call for one of the discs to be an acoustic collection of gospel songs. John is also featured on June Carter Cash's final album, Wildwood Flower, released Sept. 9,2003.
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