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Ten Things You May Not Know About Johnny Cash
This past Thursday marked ten years since the passing of the late and great Johnny Cash. To mark the occasion and to celebrate his enduring legacy, here are ten things you may not know about him.
1. He tried to remove I Walk the Line from the radio.
One of his most eternal songs was I Walk the Line. However, in 1956, Cash begged Sam Phillips of Sun Records to quit sending the song to radio stations, saying “I just didn't think it was that good of a song. I just didn't think anyone would like it”.
2. He and his first wife wrote more than 10,000 pages of love letters.
While he was married to Vivian Liberto, the two of them reportedly wrote over 10,000 pages of handwritten love letters to each other. Cash wrote many of these while he was in Germany with the Air Force, and Liberto published many of the letters in 2006.
3. The ‘Man in Black’ theme is legitimate.
The long-running motif of Johnny Cash as the ‘Man in Black’ is based in reality – since he never performed in anything other than a black outfit. He once told Larry King “[I've] never done a concert in anything but black. You walk into my clothes closet. It’s dark in there.”
4. He tried out with the Tennessee Two in an odd setting.
Cash’s first documented performance with his backing band the Tennessee Two was in front of a group of elderly women in the basement of a church.
5. His first guitar was relatively inexpensive.
While stationed in Germany with the Air Force, Cash purchased his first guitar for 20 deutschemarks – which at the time translated to roughly $5 American.
6. His mother worked at his gift shop in her twilight years.
The House of Cash museum in Henderson, Tennessee closed down in 1999 – but Johnny’s mother Carrie worked in the gift shop of the museum until her passing.
7. He lived with Waylon Jennings for a bit.
During the divorce proceedings involving Cash and his wife Vivian Liberto, Cash shared an apartment with country musician Waylon Jennings.
8. His facial scar was the result of a failed surgery.
The scar on the right side of his face came about when an attempted procedure to remove a cyst was botched, leaving a permanent mark by the side of his mouth. The surgical attempt took place while he was in the Air Force.
9. A high-profile prison inmate would later cite Cash as a major influence.
One of the inmates that saw three of Cash’s performances at San Quentin Prison was a young 22-year old man named Merle Haggard. ‘The Hag’ went on to become a country music legend, and cites Cash’s prison performances as a major influence on his career.
10. He had a specific reason for wearing black.
Cash once explained his proclivity for wearing black clothing as follows: “I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town, I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, but is there because he's a victim of the times.”
Have any other Johnny Cash facts to share? Let us know in the comments below!