Remembering Late Country Legend Johnny Cash On His 88th Birthday

Johnny Cash, also known as "Man in Black," wrote about 500 songs, sold more than 50 million records, and won 13 Grammy Awards. Today he would have turned 88 years old. To celebrate the icon’s birthday we’re going to take a look back on his eventful life.

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Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932, in Kingsland and grew up in a destitute family with six siblings. The Cashs owned a cotton field farm and young Johnny Cash started helping out in the fields when he was only 5 years old.

Johnny Cash’s whole family had a passion for music and loved to sing, Johnny Cash especially inherited his musical talent from his mother, an Arkansas native, who played piano and sang. During his high school graduation ceremony in May 1950, Cash eventually had his first solo performance as a singer.

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After graduating, Cash joined the Air Force and served his time in Germany. During his service in Germany, Cash started his first band, the Landsberg Barbarians and discovered yet another musical talent - playing the harmonica.

When he returned to America in 1954 he married Vivien Liberto. The two moved to Memphis in Tennessee and ended up having four daughters together before their 12-year long marriage ended in 1966.

In 1955 Johnny Cash had his breakthrough when he was able to convince Sam Phillips, owner and producer of the record label Sun Records, of his musical talent, despite numerous failed attempts. Accompanied by the band Tennessee Two, Cash recorded his first single Cry! Cry! Cry! with Sun Records that hit the country charts right away. 

Johnny Cash had his first big performance when he toured as an opening act for none other than Elvis Presley who was also under contract with Sun Records and eventually became a huge Johnny Cash fan. 

At the end of the 1950s, Cash was at the height of his career and spent most of his time on tour, which had a negative impact on his relationship with Vivien Liberto who filed a divorce in 1966. Cash often found himself feeling rather stressed out and started to abuse drugs and alcohol. His popularity slowly began to wane as he battled this drug addiction that seemed to take control of his life.

Luckily, June Carter, with whom cash had worked since 1961, and her parents helped Cash find his way back to a drug-free life. On November 11, 1967, Cash was able to perform his first sober concert in over ten years. And June Carter eventually agreed to become his second wife in 1968 after she had rejected his proposal her multiple times before. The two had a happy marriage, had a son, and stayed together until her death in May 2003.

By the late 1960s, Cash’s career was back on track. His big turnaround was the album Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison from 1968. The album was recorded during Cash’s live performance in front of about 2,000 inmates at California’s Folsom Prison and gained a lot of attention. 

During his career, Cash performed with numerous famous musicians. He collaborated with Bob Dylan to sing Wanted Man and performed Country Roads with than John Denver.

Even after his death on September 2, 2003, Johnny Cash remains an all-time legend of country music and will always be remembered.

Are you a Johnny Cash fan? If so, tell us your favorite Cash song and be sure to pass this article along and inspire others to play a little Johnny Cash on the day that would have been his 88th birthday.