Johnny Cash, born J. R. Cash, (26 February 1932 - 12 September 2003), also known as "The Man in Black," was a multiple Grammy Award-winning American country singer-songwriter. Cash is widely considered to be one of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century. Cash was known for his deep, distinctive voice, his trademark dark clothing which earned him his nickname, the boom-chick-a-boom or "freight train" sound of his Tennessee Three backing band, and his demeanor. He traditionally started his concerts with the introduction "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash."
Much of Cash's music, especially that of his later career, echoed themes of sorrow, moral tribulation, and redemption. His signature songs include "I Walk the Line", "Folsom Prison Blues", "Ring of Fire", "That Old Wheel" (a duet with Hank Williams Jr.), "Cocaine Blues", and "Man in Black". He also recorded several humorous songs, such as "One Piece at a Time", "The One on the Right Is on the Left", "Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog" a duet with June Carter, "Jackson," and "A Boy Named Sue"; rock-and-roll numbers such as "Get Rhythm"; and various railroad songs, such as "Rock Island Line" and "Orange Blossom Special".
He sold over 90 million albums in his nearly fifty-year career and came to occupy a "commanding position in music history". Johnny Cash was born J.R. Cash in Kingsland, Arkansas, to Ray and Carrie Cash, and raised in Dyess, Arkansas. Cash was reportedly given the name "J.R." because his parents could not agree on a name, only on initials. When he enlisted in the United States Air Force, the military would not accept initials as his name, so he adopted John R. Cash as his legal name.
While in Air Force training in 1950, Cash met Vivian Liberto. A month after his discharge, on August 7, 1954, they were married. They had four daughters: Rosanne (1955), Kathleen (1956), Cindy (1959), and Tara (1961). His constant touring and drug use put intense strain on his marriage, and they divorced in 1966.
In a career that spanned almost five decades, Cash was the personification of country music to many people around the world. Cash was a musician who was not tied to a single genre. He recorded songs that could be considered rock and roll, blues, rockabilly, folk, and gospel, and exerted an influence on each of those genres. Moreover, he had the unique distinction among country artists of having "crossed over" late in his career to become popular with an unexpected demographic, young indie and alternative rock fans. His diversity was evidenced by his presence in three major music halls of fame: the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (1977), the Country Music Hall of Fame (1980), and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1992). Only thirteen performers are in both of the last two, and only Hank Williams Sr., Jimmie Rodgers, and Bill Monroe share the honor with Cash of being in all three. However, only Cash was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the regular manner, unlike the other country members, who were inducted as "early influences." His pioneering contribution to the genre has also been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1996. Cash stated that his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, in 1980, was his greatest professional achievement. In 2007, Johnny Cash was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.