Ten years ago today, the music world lost a huge voice and patriot of traditional country music. When Johnny Cash passed away on September 12, 2003, a large void was placed on the hearts of music fans. No one had made an impact on not only country music, but other genres.
Born in 1932, Johnny Cash was one of seven children to parents Ray and Carrie Rivers Cash. The son of a cotton farmer, he worked alongside his siblings laboring at the hard toil. During those times in the fields, Cash would learn music from his mom who would sing hymns and other songs.
Johnny Cash’s journey would lead him to Detroit and then in the U.S. Air Force, where he met his first wife Vivian Liberto. Cash was sent to Germany, where he played in his first band. When he came back to the United States, he and Vivian settled in Memphis. Cash, along with Marshall Grant, Luther Perkins, and Red Kernodle formed The Tennessee Three and recorded in the infamous Sun Records studio.
Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Three would go on to produce hit singles that are still strong memories in country music fans souls. Country music standards were being set with the unique sound made by the group. From “Cry, Cry, Cry” to “Folsom Prison Blues,” to “I Walk the Line” and “Ring of Fire,” there was a certain soulful country sound found nowhere else.
Much has been written and said about Johnny Cash’s drug and alcohol induced past, as well as the well-publicized love story between him and June Carter. Carter would marry Cash in 1968 and she would stand by his side until her death just months prior to his own.
There is a hint of mystery in the life and music of Johnny Cash and his popularity, even years after his death. His infamous home would burn down during renovations, as though that no one else could ever life in the house that Cash built. His name would be name checked in songs and new generations are discovering his music. Fans have paid tribute by wearing shirts with his photo, or even getting tattoos of his portrait or simply the word Cash. These days, fans can flock to Nashville and visit the Johnny Cash Museum and Store. They can also pay their respects to Johnny and June Carter Cash.
In honor of his memory, the Cash Family will be holding a candlelight vigil as they honor the memory of Johnny Cash. It will be held at the Hendersonville Memory Gardens at 353 Johnny Cash Parkway in Hendersonville, Tenn. The event will start at 9:00 p.m. central time.
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Hollercast podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.