Did you know… that Johnny Cash was a local?
Born J.R. “Johnny” Cash on February 26, 1932, he was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author who is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Mr. Cash and his family lived on Nye Road in Casitas Springs.
Some interesting facts about The Man In Black.
- He was dubbed The Man In Black because his signature look was to dress in all black clothes.
- His parents named him J.R. Cash because his parents could not think of a name – it was a compromise between the names John and Ray. When he enlisted in the Air Force, Cash gave his name as “John R. Cash.”
- When he was a child working in the cotton fields, Cash used to eat young cotton buds, despite his mother’s warnings that they would give him bellyaches.
- He took only one voice lesson – the teacher advised him not to let anyone change the way he sang.
- He bought his first guitar in Germany for 20 deutschemarks ($5 USD at the time).
- Before becoming a musician, Cash worked in the Air Force. While most people waited to be drafted for the required two years, Cash wanted more and stayed for four. He was shipped to Germany during the Korean War. His role was to intercept and decipher Russian Morse Code. He used his military earnings to buy his first guitar.
- The first song he heard on a radio was Hobo Bill’s Last Ride by Jimmie Rodgers.
- Johnny Cash’s most successful song, Ring of Fire, was a cover. When it comes to good song covers, there are two types of musicians: Those who make their own rendition of an original track, and those whose covers are so good, they make the song their own. Clearly, Cash is one of the latter. While most people are aware that Hurt is a Nine Inch Nails cover, fewer know that Ring of Fire is also a cover. Cash’s wife, June, co-wrote the song with Merle Kilgore. The song was originally recorded and performed by June’s sister, Anita Carter, and released in her album, Folk Songs Old and New under the name Love’s Ring of Fire. Johnny Cash later performed and released the song where it stayed at the number one position in the music charts for seven weeks. Ring of Fire is Johnny Cash’s most successful song ever.
- The first song he remembers singing was the hymn I Am Bound for the Promised Land.
- Johnny Cash almost wiped out an entire condor reserve in the Los Padres National Forest. In 1965, his truck, named Jesse James, caught fire when a wheel bearing overheated. That sparked a forest fire that eventually burned down 508 acres in Los Padres National Forest. Making matters worse, the park was home to 53 endangered condors, 49 were killed. Cash was then brought to court and, when questioned by the judge, he retorted “I didn’t do it, my truck did, and it’s dead so you can’t question it.”
- Muhammad Ali wrote a poem for Cash called Truth which Cash kept locked in a vault.
- The motto on the Cash family coat of arms reads “Better Times Will Come.”
- To commemorate his birthday, Cash’s family wants you to wear black.