The Extraordinary Life Of The Folsom Prison Singer

People of all ages and from all walks of life have undoubtedly heard the name Johnny Cash at some point in their life. This man has proved that even a farm boy from Arkansas can grow up and have an enormous impact in people’s lives though his music and contributions.

Early Years

When Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932, his parents Ray and Carrie lived in Kingsland, Arkansas. The family moved to northeast Arkansas and settled in Dyess Colony when Cash was three years old. Johnny, along with his siblings and parents, worked long hours on the family’s 20 acre farm.

Young Cash grew up listening to his mother sing hymns and folk songs. These and the songs that he’d hear from the railroad workers and farm hands were all an inspiration for his own songs in later years.

In 1950, after graduating from high school, Johnny moved to Pontiac, Michigan and began working in an automotive factory. Before long, Cash joined the United States Air Force and while in basic training in Texas, he met Vivian Liberto. After leaving the service in 1954, Cash and Vivian were married and they took up residence in Memphis, Tennessee.

Musical Career

Cash worked at several jobs but he had his heart set on the music industry. Johnny began recording songs and when he released “I Walk The Line”, which was his fourth single, over 2 million copies were sold. Cash continued to gain popularity and in 1956 he made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry. A string of additional hit songs followed including “Ring Of Fire”, “I Got Stripes” and “Understand Your Man”.

An exhaustive touring schedule, along with alcohol and drugs, strained his marriage and ultimately led to divorce. In 1968, Johnny married longtime friend and singer June Carter and she helped free him from the drugs and alcohol that was consuming his life.

The year 1968 was also when Cash performed for the inmates at Folsom Prison in California. The recorded album of the live show shot up the charts and Johnny Cash’s career exploded.

Throughout the years, Cash won many awards for his musical talents and he continued to record and release albums until his death on September 12, 2003. Cash was a supporter of many causes that he was passionate about including prison reform, the American Cancer Society and Youth For Christ.