Cash, Johnny

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Cash, Johnny

Johnny Cash, 1932–2003, American singer and songwriter, b. Kingsland, Ark. Born to a farm family, he went to Memphis in 1955 and recorded such hits as "I Walk the Line" (1956) and "Ring of Fire" (1963); the latter was written with his second wife, singer June Carter Cash of the Carter family country music dynasty. 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. The recording of his January, 1968, concert at Folsom Prison is one of his greatest and most profound albums, but 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 halls of fame.

See his autobiography (1997); H. George-Warren and M. Evans, Johnny Cash in His Own Words (2003), and M. Streissguth, ed., Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Reader (2002); V. Cash, I Walked the Line: My Life with Johnny (2007); biographies by S. Dolan (1996), F. Moriarty (1998), G. Campbell (2003), S. Miller (2003), M. Streissguth (2006), and R. Hilburn (2013).

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