Johnny Cash, 1932–2003, American singer and songwriter, b. Kingsland, Ark. Born to a farm family, he went to Memphis in 1955 and recorded hits such as
"I Walk the Line"
"Ring of Fire"
(1963), written with his second wife, singer June Carter Cash of the famous country dynasty (see Carter family). A major figure in country and western music, Cash lent a unique note of grace and gravitas to the genre with his all-black wardrobe redolent of rebellion and mourning, his rumbling bass-baritone voice, and the often tragic subject matter of his songs. Nonetheless, one of his biggest hits was the humorous
"A Boy Named Sue"
(1969). Cash, who mingled elements of folk, country, and rock in his music, won 11 Grammies and was elected to both the Country Music and Rock and Roll hall of fames. Noted for his performances at prisons and his appearances in concert, on television, and in films, he continued to tour until 1997.
See his autobiography (1997); H. George-Warren and M. Evans, Johnny Cash in His Own Words (2003); M. Streissguth, ed., Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Reader (2002); biographies by S. Dolan (1996), F. Moriarty (1998), G. Campbell (2003), S. Miller (2003), and M. Streissguth (2006); V. Cash, I Walked the Line: My Life with Johnny (2007).