Johnny Cash was a country music legend.
Winner of 11 Grammys -- most recently in 2003, when "Give My Love To Rose" earned him honors as best male country vocal performance -- and numerous Country Music Association awards. He was the youngest ever inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980 and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
His career spanned 4 decades as a singer, songwriter, cultural leader and music icon. He was best known for his representation of the working man, and never forgot his roots – he was born in Kingsland, Arkansas, and lived for a while in a shack while his father Ray worked on a federal land-reclamation scheme.
He first learned to play the guitar in 1950 while serving for the United States Air Force in Landsberg, West Germany. But it was when he moved back to the US, and living in Memphis that he had his first break at Sun Records in the illustrious company of Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins.
It was at this time, Cash recorded a number of hits including Cry, Cry, Cry, Folsom Prison Blues, I Walk The Line, and Big River.. He also wrote You're My Baby for Roy Orbison and Get Rhythm for Elvis Presley, and forged his long term friendship with Bob Dylan.
The late 1960s and '70s were Cash's peak commercial years, and he was host of his own ABC variety show from 1969-71. The Johnny Cash Show ran for three years on prime time and presented guest artists including Ray Charles, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder and The Who. In later years, he was part of the Highwayman supergroup with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kristofferson.
He also took on some acting roles and received acclaim for his appearance with Kirk Douglas in A Gunfight (1972), and he went on to appear in a string of TV movies including The Pride Of Jesse Hallam (1980), Murder In Coweta County (1983), The Baron And The Kid (1984), and The Last Days Of Frank And Jesse (1986).
Cash said in his 1997 autobiography "Cash" that he tried to speak for "voices that were ignored or even suppressed in the entertainment media, not to mention the political and educational establishments." In his 1971 hit "Man in Black," Cash said “I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, living in the hopeless, hungry side of town I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime...” Cash had been "The Man in Black" since he joined the Grand Ole Opry at age 25.
His latest album, 2002's The Man Comes Around receive very positive critical acclaim for Cash's renditions of Bridge Over Troubled Water, Desperado and Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus. Most recently, Cash was recognized for his cover of the Nine Inch Nails song "Hurt" with seven nominations at last month's MTV Video Music Awards. He had hoped to attend the event but couldn't because of his hospital stay. The video won for best cinematography.