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Lest We Forget

Posted on September 12, 2003

Johnny Cash

The Man in Black

1932-2003

Johnny Cash, country music’s “Man in Black” and one of the genre’s most enduring figures, died at 2 a.m. (CST) Friday, September 12, 2003 at age 71. Cash’s manager Lou Robin released a statement saying “Johnny died due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in respiratory failure.” Cash’s death comes just four months after the death of his wife, the country singer-songwriter June Carter Cash. She died in May of 2003 of complications from heart surgery at age 73.

In the 1950s Cash was one of the members of the legendary “Sun Records” along with Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. (Only Jerry Lee Lewis is still with us.) Cash had landed an audition with “Sun Records” in 1955. Originally Cash wanted to be a gospel singer, but “Sun” owner Sam Phillips wanted something more commercial. When Cash returned with “Hey Porter”, Phillips signed him. The first single, “Cry Cry Cry/Hey Porter”, listed the artist as “Johnny Cash”, which Cash didn’t like because he felt it made him sound young. Other songs, and hits, followed including the crossover hits “I Walk The Line”, “Ring of Fire” (which was co-written by the late June Carter Cash) and the comedic “A Boy Named Sue” (written by the late Shel Silverstein).

Cash’s career spanned five decades during which he earned 10 Grammy’s, including 2003’s Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “Give My Love To Rose.” Most recently Cash earned an MTV music video award for Best Cinematography for the video of his version of “Hurt”.

The Man In Black, Johnny Cash, was inducted as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

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