September 12, 2003 – J.R. “Johnny” Cash was born February 26, 1932 and became one of the most imposing and influential figures in post-World War II country music. With his deep, baritone and spare, percussive guitar, he had a basic, distinctive sound.
Although primarily remembered as a country music icon, his genre-spanning songs and sound embraced rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of multiple inductions in the Country Music, Rock and Roll and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.
Born in Kingsland, Arkansas, he was given the name “J.R.” because his parents could not agree on a name, only on initials. When he enlisted in the US Air Force, the military would not accept initials as his name, so he adopted John R. Cash as his legal name.
In a career that spanned almost 5 decades John received multiple Country Music Association Awards, Grammys, and other awards, in categories ranging from vocal and spoken performances to album notes and videos. His diversity is evidenced by his presence in three major music halls of fame: the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977, the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, only Hank Williams Sr., Jimmie Rodgers, and Bill Monroe share the honor being in all three.
Much of Cash’s music echoed themes of sorrow, moral tribulation and redemption, especially in the later stages of his career. His signature songs include “I Walk the Line”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Ring of Fire”, “Get Rhythm” and “Man in Black”. He also recorded humorous numbers, such as “One Piece at a Time” and “A Boy Named Sue”, a duet with his then future wife June Carter called “Jackson”, as well as railroad songs including “Hey Porter” and “Rock Island Line”. He sadly passed away at age 71 from complications from diabetes and respiratory failure.