Country music legend John R. Cash (1932-2003) was born to poor sharecroppers in Kingsland, Arkansas.
At age 12, he lost his younger brother Jack in a freak chainsaw accident and said the tragedy, “put a mournful tone in my life — not just in my voice but in my whole life.”
One-fourth Cherokee Indian, the 6’2″ Cash was known for his distinctive, resonant voice and prolific songwriting about love, hardships, and life’s luckless souls.
“After about three lessons (my) voice teacher said, ‘Don’t take voice lessons. Do it your way. You’re a song stylist. Always do it your way,'” Cash said.
Johnny signed with Sun Records in 1955. His first public performance was opening for Elvis Presley. Cash gained immediate fame with hits such as Folsom Prison Blues and I Walk the Line.
With a voice that U2’s Bono described as “the most male in Christendom,” Cash’s cultural and musical importance transcended country music’s boundaries.
His signature song, The Man in Black remained a moral reminder and promise. About the symbolism of wearing the color, Cash said: “Until we start to move, to make a few things right, you’ll never see me wear a suit of white.”