He died on September 12, 2003 at the age of 71 from respiratory failure and complications from diabetes.
Johnny Cash is one of the greatest influences in the history of country music. While he is remembered most for country music, his legacy includes songs spanning a wide range of genres rincluding rockabilly and rock and roll—especially early in his career—as well as blues, folk, and gospel. With his deep, baritone voice and percussive guitar, he had a basic, distinctive sound.
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Born in Kingsland, Arkansas he was named J. R. Cash (Named J.R. because his parents could only agree on initials, not a name), "Johnny" Cash. When Cash enlisted in the US Air Force, the military would not accept initials as his name, so he adopted John R. Cash as his legal name.
In a career that spanned almost five decades, Johnny received multiple Country Music Association Awards, Grammys, and other tributes, from vocal and spoken performances to album notes and videos. His diversity is evidenced by his presence in three major music halls of fame: the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977, the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Only Hank Williams Sr., Jimmie Rodgers, and Bill Monroe share the honor with John of being in all three.
His best-known songs include "I Walk the Line," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Ring of Fire," "Get Rhythm" and "Man in Black." He also recorded humorous numbers, such as "One Piece at a Time" and "A Boy Named Sue"; a duet with future wife June Carter called "Jackson," as well as railroad songs including "Hey Porter" and "Rock Island Line."
In 1967, Johnny Cash and June Carter won a Grammy award in the Best Country & Western Performance, Duet, Trio Or Group (vocal or instrumental) category for the song "Jackson." They were married on March 1, 1968. June Carter Cash died May 15, 2003 at the age of 73; two months after their 35th wedding anniversary, and four months before Johnny passed away.
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Cash wrote over 1,000 songs and released dozens of albums. A box set titled Unearthed was issued posthumously. It included four CDs of unreleased material recorded with Rubin as well as a Best of Cash on American retrospective CD.
In 1999, Cash received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Cash #31 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.