black and white portrait of Johnny Cash looking into the camera

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to Pay Tribute to Legendary “Man in Black” Johnny Cash during 21st Annual Music Masters™ Series

Weeklong celebration honoring Johnny Cash October 17-22 to feature exhibit opening, fan events, star-studded tribute concert, and more!

Fans can ‘Walk the Line’ to Cash’s “J.C. Unit One” tour bus at the Rock Hall NOW through October (with museum admission)

CLEVELAND (August 10, 2016) - The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Case Western Reserve University will honor one of the most influential artists of all time, Johnny Cash, during the 21st Annual Music Masters™ series, presented by Klipsch Audio. The “Man in Black,” who influenced not only his fellow country musicians, but also rockers from Bob Dylan to Social Distortion, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. The weeklong celebration, October 17 to 22, 2016, will include the Annual Music Masters concert on Friday, October 21 at 7:30 p.m. EDT at Playhouse Square’s State Theatre.

“We are so grateful that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is honoring Johnny Cash for the 2016 Annual Music Masters series,” said John Carter Cash. “Our father remains one of the most enduring names in entertainment history, and this recognition helps further his legacy and inspire both existing fans as well as a whole new generation of Johnny Cash fans.” 

Tribute concert artists, ticket prices and event details will be announced in September. Members of Cash’s family are expected to attend the tribute concert to accept the award. The concert will include a star-studded line up of artists that highlight all sides and genres of the musical icon loved by many. A limited number of premium seating and VIP packages beginning at $300 are available now by contacting the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s development office at (216) 515-1201 or [email protected].

“Throughout his career Johnny Cash transcended genre boundaries and embraced rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel,” said Jason Hanley, Vice President of Education and Visitor Engagement for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “The 21st Annual Music Masters concert will explore his many musical journeys and include performers who represent the broad range of his influence. What’s so amazing about Cash is that almost every musician you ask will tell you that they love his music – from the rockabilly and country of his Sun Records recordings in the 1950s, and his outlaw image and his famous concerts at Folsom Prison and San Quentin, to his enduring love for June Carter Cash and their music work together (including the great “Ring of Fire”), or his later American Recordings music that frequently saw him putting his own unique musical fingerprints on some of rocks newest sounds (like Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” or Nine Inch Nails, “Hurt”). Fans will also be able to pay tribute to Cash and the longstanding popularity and impact of his work that lives on in our lives throughout the weeklong celebration. Music Masters is about bringing everything we do at the Rock Hall together to look at the life, music, and legacy of an artist.”

The weeklong series of fan events begin on Monday, October 17 and will feature an exhibit opening, interviews, panels and educational programs, including a keynote lecture at Case Western Reserve University. On Friday, October 21, Cash will be honored during the 21st Annual Music Masters series at Playhouse Square. Capping off the week, on Saturday, October 22, fans will be able to participate in a Johnny Cash celebration at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with special guests and events exploring Cash’s impact on popular music. Details and a complete schedule of events will be announced in September.

Fans looking to get their Cash fix now can ‘Walk the Line’ to his tour bus at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame now through the end of October. The “Man in Black’s” 40-foot ebony and silver rolling sanctuary, dubbed “J.C. Unit One,” transported Cash and his wife June, along with a cast of characters that came together for various tours, including the 1991 Highwayman Tour with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. Throughout his career, Cash's travels informed the inspired candor of his songwriting and quite literally took his music cross-country, putting more than 1 million miles on the bus. Tours on the bus are included with Rock & Roll Hall of Fame admission.

Sign up for the Rock Hall’s e-newsletter at to be alerted about event details and tickets.

About Johnny Cash:

To millions of fans, Johnny Cash is “the Man in Black,” a country-music legend who sings in an authoritative baritone about the travails of working men and the downtrodden in this country. Lesser known is the fact that Johnny Cash was present at one of the key moments in early rock and roll history by virtue of being one of the earliest signees to Sam Phillips’ Sun Records back in 1955. Cash was part of an elite club of rock and roll pioneers at Sun that included Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. The four were collectively referred to as “the Million Dollar Quartet” after an impromptu gathering and jam session at the Sun recording studio on December 4, 1956. What Cash and his group, the Tennessee Two, brought to the “Sun Sound” was a spartan mix of guitar, standup bass and vocals that served as an early example of rockabilly. Cash recorded a string of rockabilly hits for Sun that included “Cry, Cry, Cry,” “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk the Line.” The latter was first of more than a dozen Number One country hits for Cash and also marked his first appearance on the national pop singles charts.

Straddling the country, folk and rockabilly idioms, Johnny Cash has crafted more than 400 plainspoken story-songs that describe and address the lives of coal miners, sharecroppers, Native Americans, prisoners, cowboys, renegades and family men. Cash came by his common touch honestly, having been born in Kingsland, Arkansas, during the Great Depression on February 26, 1932. At age three, he moved with his family to Dyess, Arkansas, where he worked the cotton fields. Cash’s roaming days included laboring at an auto plant in Michigan, serving in the Air Force in Germany and working as an appliance salesman in Memphis. Cash became a full-time musician after his two-sided hit—“So Doggone Lonesome"/"Folsom Prison Blues”—shot to Number Four on the Billboard country chart in 1956. From Sun, he jumped to Columbia Records in 1958, where he recorded such favorites as “Ring of Fire,” “Understand Your Man,” “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town” and “Tennessee Flat-Top Box.” But Cash never forgot his roots, nor did he leave hard times behind. A prototype for the black-clad rebel rocker, Cash cultivated a serious drug problem in the Sixties, which ended when he met his second wife, June Carter, whom he married in 1968.

Some of Cash’s best work includes live albums recorded, quite literally, for captive audiences at Folsom and San Quentin prisons. Johnny Cash at San Quentin included the 1969 hit “A Boy Named Sue,” which went to Number Two. In 1969, Cash cut a duet with Bob Dylan for the latter’s Nashville Skyline, and Dylan returned the favor by appearing on The Johnny Cash Show, a successful TV variety hour that premiered in 1969. All the while, the rugged simplicity and uncut honesty of Cash’s approach was steadily seeping into rock and roll by way of the burgeoning country-rock scene. 

About the Annual Music Masters Series:

The Annual Music Masters series, a co-production of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Center for Popular Music Studies at Case Western Reserve University, celebrates the lives and careers of artists who changed the shape and sound of rock and roll music. Each year, the Music Masters series explores the legacy of a pioneering rock and roll figure in a range of events that includes Museum exhibits, lectures, films, a major conference and a tribute concert benefiting the Rock Hall’s education programs. Drawing together experts, artists, fans and friends, these events provide new perspectives on the most beloved and influential musicians of the past century.

The tribute concert brings together a diverse mix of artists and musical styles, and as a result, many magical moments have taken place over the years. In 2012, Chuck Berry took the stage, and during a performance of his song “Reelin’ And Rockin’” he surprised the audience with his signature move – “the Duck Walk.”  Honoree Jerry Lee Lewis, who was not scheduled to perform at the 2007 concert, was moved to take the stage at the end of the show. Lewis tenderly played the piano and sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” At the first Annual Music Masters tribute concert, Bruce Springsteen set the bar high and performed in honor of Woody Guthrie. The most star-studded and unique performance by a trio was Aretha Franklin, Solomon Burke and Elvis Costello paying tribute to Sam Cooke in 2005. In 2008, a 93-year-old Les Paul took the stage with his trio and then led an epic jam with some of rock and roll’s greatest guitarists, from Jennifer Batten to Slash. Janis Joplin was honored in 2009 by Grammy winner Lucinda Williams with a song she composed especially for the occasion, and in 2010, Dave Bartholomew brought down the house with a performance in tribute of honorees Fats Domino and Bartholomew himself. In 2011, Aretha Franklin was not planning to perform, but at the last minute she requested a piano and took the stage to perform Leon Russell’s “A Song for You,” which she recorded in 1974. During the 19th Annual Music Masters honoring the Everly Brothers, Don Everly took the stage with the rest of the cast – that included Graham Nash, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and more – for two run-throughs of the 1957 chart topping hit “Bye Bye Love.” Last year, at the 20th Music Masters honoring Smokey Robinson the honoree was joined on stage by fellow Hall of Fame Inductees from Motown including Mary Wilson, Dennis Edwards, Martha Reeves, and Motown founder Berry Gordy. 

The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this program with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment of all Ohioans.

About Case Western Reserve University:

Case Western Reserve University is one of the country's leading private research institutions. Located in Cleveland, we offer a unique combination of forward-thinking educational opportunities in an inspiring cultural setting. Our leading-edge faculty engage in teaching and research in a collaborative, hands-on environment. Our nationally recognized programs include arts and sciences, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing and social work. About 5,100 undergraduate and 6,200 graduate students comprise our student body. Visit to see how Case Western Reserve thinks beyond the possible.

About Klipsch Premium Speakers:

In 1946 Paul W. Klipsch, inventor, acoustics pioneer and maverick, founded Klipsch Audio with the sole purpose of bringing the power, detail and emotion of the live music experience into his living room. Through the use of highly efficient speaker designs, handcrafted cabinetry and a thirst for real engineering breakthroughs – Klipsch, the great American loudspeaker company, was born in Hope, AR. Today, our diverse range of quality audio products includes speakers and headphones for almost any consumer and professional application – including cinema, whole-house, wireless, home theater and portable offerings. Honoring our founder’s legacy, Klipsch continues to be the legendary high-performance brand of choice for audiophiles and aficionados around the world. We are the Keepers of the Sound®. Klipsch Group, Inc. is headquartered in Indianapolis and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of VOXX International Corporation (NASDAQ: VOXX).

About Playhouse Square:

Playhouse Square is a not-for-profit performing arts center whose mission is presenting and producing a wide variety of quality performing arts, advancing arts education and creating a destination that is a superior location for entertainment, business and residential living, thereby strengthening the economic vitality of the region.

About the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum:

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s mission is to engage, teach and inspire through the power of rock and roll. The institution carries out its mission by giving voice to the stories of the people, artifacts and events that shaped rock and roll — through exhibits, materials in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Library and Archives, traveling exhibitions, and a wide array of innovative educational programs and activities. The Rock Hall is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. On Wednesdays (and Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day), the Rock Hall is open until 9 p.m. For more information, please call 216.781.ROCK (7625), visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@rock_hall) and Instagram (@rockhall).

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Media Contacts:

Shauna Wilson, 216-515-1215, [email protected]
Carl Harp, 216-515-1503, [email protected]


Johnny Cash

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Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment