Johnny Cash

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Biography

26 February 1932, Kingsland, Arkansas, USA, d. 12 September 2003, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. One of the giants of American music, Cash made over 70 albums of original material, plus countless guest appearances. His music reflected his love of America, his compassion, his love of life, and, what is often lacking in country music, a sense of humour. Heeding the advice he was given during his one and only singing lesson, ‘Never change your voice’, Cash’s limited range proved staggeringly impressive on particular songs, especially narrative ones. Like Bo Diddley’s ‘shave and a haircut’ rhythm, he developed his music around his ‘boom chicka boom’, and instilled enough variety to stave off boredom.

Cash traced his ancestry to seventeenth-century Scotland and admitted that he fabricated the much-publicized story that he was a quarter Cherokee. Cash’s father, Ray, worked on sawmills and the railway; in...

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