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Johnny Cash :: Blog

Johnny Cash Now on Stamp and Exhibit

Wednesday, June 5: 4:20 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The United States Postal Service's new Johnny Cash stamp.

Today, the United States Postal Service officially made available a new Johnny Cash stamp, honoring the American music legend and 1992 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee as part of the Postal Service's Music Icons series. The stamp features a portrait of Cash taken by famed photographer Frank Bez, who captured the image of  "the Man in Black" during photo sessions for 1963's Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash

Although present at the genesis of rock and roll as one of the earliest signings to Sam Phillips' Sun Records in 1955, Cash recorded for nearly three decades with Columbia Records, a fruitful period that produced an estimated 1,400 songs. Cash's 16th album, Ring of Fire did, in fact, feature some of his best material, and on the week of January 11, 1964, it became the Number One album on Billboard's new Country Album chart. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's collection features a number of Johnny Cash items in the Memphis section of the Museum's Cities and Sounds exhibit. Among the featured items are a suit worn by Cash and a 1943 Martin acoustic guitar he played ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit

Rare Performances: Johnny Cash Live in 1992

Thursday, July 5: 3 p.m.
Johnny Cash led an all-star performance of "Big River" at the 1992 Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Late Show with David Letterman band leader Paul Shaffer, moonlighting in his annual turn helming the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony band, calls out the tune: ”This is a song called ‘Big River,’ and it’s in E!” It’s the 1992 induction ceremony, and one of that year’s inductees, Johnny Cash, recorded “Big River” for the Sun label in 1958. The band for which Paul Shaffer called the tune is remarkable in its sheer star power –some fellow 1992 inductees back up Cash, including Booker T. and Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Ronald and Marvin Isley of the Isley Brothers and Sam Moore of Sam and Dave. Past and future inductees also round out the band, including John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival (inducted in 1993), Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones (1989), the Edge of U2 (2005), Little Richard (1986), Carlos Santana (1998) and Isaac Hayes (2002). Edgar Winter backs Cash on sax and Aaron Neville of the Neville Brothers makes an appearance on vocals and percussion. Even with so many stars, Johnny Cash and his song outshine the pantheon onstage. “Big River” was the B-side of a ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Rare Performances, Exhibit, Hall of Fame

Album Notes: Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash"

Wednesday, January 11: 4 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Despite the subtitle of Johnny Cash's 1963 compilation album Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash, the 12 tracks more accurately represent a nicely curated assemblage of singles and recordings from the Man in Black's late Fifties to the early Sixties catalog. As an undisputed legend of American song, a titanic figure on par with Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly and Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash arguably sang more types of songs, including folk, country, blues and gospel, than any of his peers or predecessors – and this album illustrates that versatility.

Although present at the genesis of rock and roll as one of the earliest signings to Sam Phillips' Sun Records in 1955, Cash recorded for nearly three decades with Columbia Records, a fruitful period that produced an estimated 1,400 songs. Cash's 16th album, Ring of Fire did, in fact, feature some of his best material, and on the week of January 11, 1964, it became the Number One album on Billboard's new Country Album chart.

The title track, "Ring Of Fire," written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore, is indicative of the idiosyncratic genius that's a hallmark of Cash's songwriting, with its ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Today in Rock

A Million Dollar Jam Session

Thursday, September 29: 4:43 p.m.
The Million Dollar Quartet. Photo credit: Memphis Press-Scimitar

The story of rock and roll is often reduced to a happy mix of rhythm and blues and country music, but it is actually a far richer and more complicated comingling of styles, genres, instruments, cultures and people. For our Rock and Roll Night School last night, my colleagues and I researched a rather famous moment in rock and roll history featuring some of its greatest musicians playing together at an impromptu jam session at Sam Phillips’ Sun Studios in Memphis on December 4, 1956. Coined the “Million Dollar Quartet” by local journalist Bob Johnson who stopped by to chronicle the session, I was struck by the versatility of these legends and the diverse repertory they had in their wheelhouse.

Earlier that day, rockabilly king Carl Perkins had recorded some songs with Sun newcomer Jerry Lee Lewis on piano.  Former Sun superstar (and then RCA recording artist) Elvis Presley was home for the holidays and dropped by with his girlfriend. Johnny Cash swung by for a time as well. As the musicians began to play together, Phillips placed a microphone in the middle of the room and pressed record. What followed were hours of musical exchange, experimentation, improvisation, imitation ...


continue Categories: Rock and Roll Night School

Riding With The Man in Black

Monday, September 12: 2 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Johnny Cash (2/26/1932 - 9/12/2003)

With a genre-spanning catalog that straddles the country, folk and rockabilly canon, and more than 400 songs that tapped into a homespun narrative about the lives of coal miners, sharecroppers, Native Americans, prisoners, cowboys, renegades and family men, Johnny Cash – "the man in black" – is a country music legend and a voice beloved by millions. Cash's rugged sensibility has influenced generations: From his 1956 two-sided hit "So Doggone Lonesome"/"Folsom Prison Blues" (Number Four on the Billboard charts) to 1969's "A Boy Named Sue" from Johnny Cash at San Quentin (Number Two on the charts); to his critically acclaimed American Recordings (produced by Rick Rubin and released in 1994) to 2002's American IV: The Man Comes Around, featuring a stirring cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt." Cash, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, passed away a year after American IV's release, on September 12, 2003 at the age of 71.

Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas, on February 26, 1932, amid the trying environment of the Great Depression. As a child, his humble beginnings found him working in the cotton fields of Dyess, Arkansas, where his family had moved ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit
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