high contrast color headshot of Johnny Cash
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment

Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll: "I Walk the Line"

The textbook example of his deep, somber vocals and that unmistakable boom-chicka-boom beat, "I Walk The Line" shifted Johnny Cash's young country-music career into high gear in 1956; it even crossed over to the pop charts.

A former auto plant worker and Air Force radio operator, appliance salesman John R. Cash was studying radio announcing not far from Sam Phillips' Sun Records in Memphis. His brother Roy, himself a musician, hooked the aspiring star up with guitarists Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant. By 1955 they'd forged their distinctive, Spartan style and begun making records for Sun.

Cut in April 1956, "I Walk The Line" proved Sun could survive the loss of Elvis Presley. It also sold 2 million copies and gave Cash the first of more than a dozen country hits. The song also inspired the 1970 movie of the same name, starring Gregory Peck, directed by John Frankenheimer, and featuring songs by Cash.

Johnny Cash will be honored during the 21st Annual Music Masters series this October. The “Man in Black,” who influenced not only his fellow country musicians, but also rockers from Bob Dylan to Trent Reznor, 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. 

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], or by completing the form below.

Get more information on the 21st Annual Music Masters series HERE.