Johnny Cash 1932 - 2003

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Saturday 1st November 2003

Country giant Johnny Cash dies aged 71

COUNTRY music superstar and committed Christian Johnny Cash died in Nashville on 12th September. The 71-year-old singer had been suffering from diabetes for some time. Earlier this year Johnny's wife June Carter-Cash also passed away. Known as "the man in black,"
Johnny was born in Kingsland, Arkansas, in 1932, the son of a Baptist minister. He grew up listening to Pentecostal preachers at a church in Dyess where he said he was terrified at the prospect of hellfire and damnation. At 12 he went forward at an altar call. As a teenager the young singer auditioned his band Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two for Sam Phillips' Sun Records. It was Phillips who persuaded Johnny to record secular material and in 1956 scored a huge country and pop hit with "I Walk The Line". Numerous other hits followed for first Sun then Columbia and won Grammy Awards for his albums 'Johnny Cash At Folson Prison' (1968) and 'Johnny Cast At San Quenton' (1969). Johnny married June Carter, erstwhile member of the legendary Carter Family, and, influenced by her Christian lifestyle, turned back to Christ after years of alcohol and drug abuse. As he wrote in Cash: The Autobiography, "I knew how serious my situation was. I was wasted, weak, hallucinating on the morphine everyday, very far out in the cold -just a degree or two away from the physical final end, to say nothing of madness, spiritual bankruptcy and financial ruin... So when the intervention came, it was welcome. As my friends and family spoke, I was telling myself, This is it. This is my salvation. God has sent these people to show me a way out. I'm going to get a chance to live.'"

And live he did. Continuing his successful recording career he made a film Gospel Road for the Billy Graham organisation. Two books were published, Man In Black in 1975 and Man In White in 1987. The singer toured the world. By the '90s he was accepted as one of the giants of contemporary music guesting on U2's 'Zooropa' album and numerous other projects. In 1994 Cash won critical acclaim for his 'American Recordings'. Amongst his many other notable albums are The Gospel Road' (1973), 'A Believer Sings The Truth' (1979), 'I Believe' (1984), 'Believe In Him' (1985), 'Goin' By The Book' (1990), 'American Recordings' (1994), 'Unchained' (1998), 'God, Love, Murder' (2000) and 'American III: Solitary Man' (2000). CR

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