Johnny Cash was a legendary singer, songwriter, and author. Many consider Cash to be one of the most iconic and influential American musicians ever. Much of Johnny Cash’s success comes from his unique ability to perform many different genres including country, rock and roll, folk, blues, and gospel. Very rarely, will you find someone that hasn’t heard of Johnny Cash, and the next time you find someone who hasn’t, you can share just a few pieces of information about the great Johnny Cash.
His real name was J.R. Cash
The J.R. didn’t actually stand for anything, either. Johnny Cash’s parents couldn’t decide what to name him when he was born, so they just named him J.R. When he enlisted in the Air Force, they wouldn’t let him use his initials, so he just named himself John R. Cash.
He was the first American to know about Stalin’s Death
It sounds absolutely absurd, but it’s true. While Johnny Cash was working in the Air force, his job was to intercept and decipher Russian messages. One of these messages, was that Joseph Stalin had died.
He and his first wife exchanged over 10,000 pages of love letters
Johnny Cash was a natural sweetheart. While he was in the Air Force, he proposed to, at the time, the love of his life over the phone. Furthermore, in 2006, many of the 10,000 alleged love letters that Johnny Cash and his first wife exchanged were published!
After being arrested for trespassing, Johnny Cash broke his toe trying to breakout of jail
Even though he sang about prison, Johnny Cash had never actually been. He had only been in jail for a combined total of 7 days, and during one incident in Starkville, Mississippi, Johnny Cash tried to kick (through?) the bars and broke his toe. Instead of enjoying his freedom, Johnny Cash broke his toe and did not, in fact, break out of prison.
Johnny Cash needed to hum at the beginning of every verse of I Walk the Line so he could sing in key.
Every verse of I Walk the Line, is written in a different key. To combat this, Johnny Cash had to hum to himself before he sang the next verse so he could make sure he was in the correct key. Oh, and has anyone ever mentioned that he wrote the song in 20 minutes.
Johnny Cash wanted I Walk the Line taken off the radio
At the time, Johnny Cash felt that the song I Walk the Line, which was released in 1956, wouldn’t be a success. In fact, he even called Sam Philips, an executive at Sun Records and “begged” him to stop sending the song to radio stations. Luckily, Sam Philips refused, and Johnny Cash’s song was able to get air time.
One of Johnny Cash’s performance at a prison inspired Merle Haggard to focus on his music career.
If you’re not big on the country scene, then you may not know who Merle Haggard is. Even if you haven’t heard of him, you have to be amazed that Johnny Cash inspired him to turn his life around and focus on his music career. The result? When Merle Haggard was released from prison, he wrote and recorded a total of 38 #1 country singles.
In 1969, Johnny Cash walked into one of Bob Dylan’s recording sessions
The 2 singers recorded hours of duets together. Only one of the duets recorded by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan has ever seen the light of day. That song, is Girl From the North Country. Hopefully, one day, the remainder of the recordings will be released.
Johnny Cash hypnotized himself to remember the lyrics to a song he wrote in his sleep!
While sleeping one night, Johnny Cash had a dream that Webb Pierece was singing a song that Johnny Cash had written. But when he woke up, he couldn’t remember any of the lyrics to the song. Johnny Cash decided to dive into his own subconscious and asked fellow singer Johnny Horton to help hypnotize him, and write down the words to the song, which became, I’d Still Be There.
Johnny Cash accidentally started a wildfire that destroyed 508 acres
In 1965, Johnny Cash’s truck caught fire after one of the wheel bearings overheated. The result, although accidental, was 508 acres of destroyed forest, and driving out 49 of 53 endangered condors that were living in the area. To date, Johnny Cash is the only person that has been sued by the Federal Government for starting a forest fire. He was ordered to pay $82,001.
Johnny Cash painted the windows of a camper so he could sleep after amphetamine binges.
Sadly, like many of the greats, Johnny Cash had a drug and alcohol problem. A very severe one. He bought a camper to use for his amphetamine binges, and kept it in the desert. The windows on the camper were spray painted black so that he was able to sleep while the sun was high in the sky, also because, according to Cash “I just liked to spray-paint things black.”
Johnny Cash intentionally wrote a terrible song to protest his record label.
The song was called Chicken in Black and was about Johnny Cash having his brain put into a chicken. The song was released in the 1980’s, after Johnny Cash’s record label of nearly 30 years was growing tired with his inactivity. To protest, he released a very unusual song which in turn, was the largest commercial success of any of the material he released between 1981 and 1984!
Johnny Cash used his windshield wipers to clear a friend’s ashes.
During the winter of 1996, Faron Young, a singer as well as a close friend of Johhny Cash, committed suicide. Johnny Cash and his family held a ceremony to scatter Faron’s ashes across their garden. Sadly, a breeze blew the ashes onto Johnny’s car. Johnny explained the incident by saying “When I came home, I found I had Faron on my windshield. I turned the wipers on. There he went, back and forth, back and forth, until he was all gone.”
Johnny Cash was in an episode of The Simpsons
Do you remember the episode where Homer smells the annual chilli cook-off? He decides to attend the event, and eats Chief Wiggum’s chilli, which is the spiciest of the whole event. After he eats the chilli, he begins to hallucinate. During his hallucinations, he meets a coyote that guides him through his psychedelic journey. Johnny Cash was the voice of that coyote!
Preparation H wanted to use “Ring of Fire” in their commercials
After Johnny Cash passed away, Preparation H asked his estate for the rights to the song Ring of Fire for one of their commercials. Preparation H is a cream used to treat haemorrhoids. Although the commercial would have been hilarious, Johnny Cash’s estate thought Preparation H would have made a mockery of his legacy.
Johnny Cash didn’t write his most famous songs
Do the songs Ring of Fire, Folsom Prison Blues, and Hurt, sound familiar to you? They should. They’re Johnny Cash’s most famous songs…and they are all unoriginal. Ring of Fire was originally written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore, making Johnny Cash’s version a cover. Folsom Prison Blues contains numerous word for word lines from previous songs released by Gordon Jenkins, and this act of plagiarism ended in a lawsuit. Hurt, was originally written and performed by Nine Inch Nails, although almost everyone prefers Johnny Cash’s version.