Johnny Cash is nothing short of an icon in the music industry. His music and lyrics are still heard on Honky Tonk Row in Nashville today. Cash’s sound and epic career left an indelible mark not only on Music City but around the world. That’s one of many reasons The Man In Black is one of only two legendary entertainers who has an entire museum in Nashville dedicated to his life, both personal and professional.
Come with me as I explore the Johnny Cash Museum and discuss with two of my friends who are singers, songwriters, musicians, and entertainers how Johnny Cash influenced them. But first, here are some things you probably didn’t know about The Man In Black.
15 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Johnny Cash
- Johnny Cash recorded more than 1500 songs during his career.
- Johnny Cash’s Facebook page has more than 10 million followers.
- Walk The Line is the top-grossing music biopic of all time.
- Johnny Cash posted more than 130 hits on the Billboard Country Singles Chart. That’s more than anyone in history, except George Jones. Discounting duets by both men, Cash’s total exceeds George Jones’s.
- Johnny Cash placed at least two singles on the country charts for thirty consecutive years, including 25 hits between 1958 and 1960.
- Johnny Cash is the only artist to have songs on the Billboard charts for six consecutive decades.
- Johnny Cash placed 48 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Charts.
- Johnny Cash tallied more pop hit singles than Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson (including his Jackson 5 hits), The Four Seasons, David Bowie, The Supremes, Elton John, Billy Joel, Kenny Rogers, Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, Linda Ronstadt, Diana Ross, the combined total of all the Osmond Family, and the combined total of Lionel Richie and the Commodores.
- Johnny Cash received 17 Grammy awards during his career.
- Cash received two of the nation’s top honors; the National Medal of Arts, presented by President George W. Bush and the Kennedy Center Honors, presented by President Bill Clinton.
- Johnny Cash served in the United States Air Force for four years from July 1950 until July 1954.
- The Landsberg Barbarians was the name of Johnny Cash’s first band. The band was founded while Cash served in the Air Force in Landsberg, Germany.
- While Johnny Cash was the stationed in Germany, he was the first radio operator to pick up the news of Stalin’s death.
- Johnny Cash is in multiple halls of fame. Four major halls of fame Cash is in include the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is honoring Johnny Cash as One of the Most Influential Musicians of the 20th Century October 17 – 22, 2016, during the 21st Annual Music Masters Series.
- Personalities ranging from Snoop Dogg, the members of U2, Bob Dylan, Justin Timberlake, Kris Kristofferson, Bruce Springsteen and several U.S. presidents, among many others are self-professed Cash fans. That alone demonstrates his broad popularity transcending age and culture.
Johnny Cash Museum
Before exploring the Johnny Cash Museum, I was a huge fan of his music, and the movie, Walk The Line starring Joaquin Phoenix and Nashville native Reese Witherspoon is one of my favorites. However, there was much about the Man In Black I did not know.
For example, I didn’t realize Johnny Cash was also an actor. The museum has a few of his movies’ posters on display in its theater area. Also, I knew Johnny Cash recorded A LOT of hits, but I had no idea how many songs Cash recorded and how many awards and honors he received.
The facts listed above are astounding and unparalleled, and those just scratch the surface. Detailing all of Cash’s accomplishments here is impossible, and that’s why you should visit the Johnny Cash Museum. Not only is his music career documented in the museum on 3rd Avenue, but some of his personal life is also shared. Among the personal items on display are his cherished Bible and the crucifix ring he received on his 70th birthday.
Johnny Cash – The Influencer
Something unable to be displayed inside a museum is the incredible influence Johnny Cash had on other artists’ music, careers, and the people who surrounded him. Cash was raised in a Baptist home and was open about his Christianity. He recorded a few gospel albums, and it’s known that he led some people to Christ.
As far as Johnny Cash influencing other artists’ music, all you have to do is turn on the radio. The number and types of artists Johnny Cash influenced is outstanding. Suffice it to say Johnny Cash’s music has no bounds. It’s been said Johnny Cash influenced artists as diverse as Justin Timberlake and Pharrell to Moby as well as numerous country music acts.
Jamie Baxter and Wes Cook are two of my friends who play some of Johnny Cash’s music when they entertain crowds from all over the world while they perform in Nashville and beyond. Since I know he impacted their lives, I asked them to tell us what they think about the legend. Here’s what they had to say:
“My name is Jamie Baxter. Johnny Cash… What do I think of Johnny Cash? Well, some of the first music I remember listening to, especially country music, and you know, he kind of defined his own sound coming out of the 50s when you had Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis kind of deal. But you know he kind of carved his own way with his own sound. Kind of like “Folsom Prison” was like the first song I learned on guitar. I think it was. So, Johnny Cash, to me, I mean he’s just an icon, and when you think of country music and rockin’ country music, I think of Johnny Cash and good storytelling. That’s Johnny Cash.”
“My name is Wes Cook. Johnny Cash has influenced me over the years through his music. He was the first show I ever saw at the Ryman back before he died in 2001, and between just his train beat and his progressions that he had, you know it was very simple, but at the same point in time, it was very powerful, and he made a paved way for country music, and I love his music front to back every song that he’s ever had. I don’t really know how else to describe it other than that.”
So, there you go. Johnny Cash’s legacy lives on through his music, lyrics, movies, and children who are successful artists in their own rights. Cash left a mark on this world and the hearts of millions that won’t soon be forgotten. Whether you’re visiting Nashville from out of town or a local, make visiting the Johnny Cash Museum a priority. Having explored much of the city, I rank the Johnny Cash Museum in the top ten things to see in Nashville and one of top five things to do in the downtown area.