By Roger Ryan
Last week the world of country music lost one of it's greatest ambassadors with the death
of Johnny Cash. A regular visitor to Ireland since the early 60s, Johnny Cash was
undoubtedly the most popular country artist to ever perform here. He had a great affinity
with the Irish people and loved coming here, both to perform and to spend some time just
"getting away from it all", as he often said. He performed in Cork on two
occasions, once at the Neptune Stadium and at the Cork Opera House as part of the Cork 800
celebrations and the final year of the Carling Country Music Festival.
The first time I saw Johnny Cash perform was in the Carlton Cinema in O'Connell St,
Dublin, in the early 60s and I still have the concert programme. On that occasion June
Carter was a member of the backup singers and the Statler Brothers were the supporting
act. After the show I hung around the theatre for over half an hour before eventually
being allowed back to meet the great man. He was one of my earliest heroes in the music
business. Johnny Cash was a charismatic performer who could get an audience on it's feet
simply by saying Hello, I'm Johnny Cash. I have seen him perform on many occasions
throughout his long and illustrious career and I can honestly say I have never seen him
give a bad performance. He was the ultimate performer and will be sadly missed. Since his
passing the tributes have been pouring in from both fellow performers and industry people.
Merle Kilgore, best-man to Johnny Cash at his wedding to June Carter
Cash and co-writer of Ring of Fire, is deeply saddened with the news of Johnny
Its a sad day in Tennessee, but a great day in Heaven. The Man in
Black is now wearing white as he joins his wife June in the angel band, said
The following statement was issued by manager of Johnny Cash, Lou
"In honour of the Cash families privacy during these times, the decision has been
made to hold private - both the visitation and the funeral services. They wish to thank
everyone for their prayers at this difficult time."
The following statement was issued today by the family of Johnny
"The family of Johnny Cash, in this sad hour, is greatly comforted by the outpouring
of love and respect for his remarkable life. We also take solace in the knowledge that he
is again reunited with his dearest companion, June. Our lives, and indeed the entire
planet, will forever feel the emptiness of his loss, but his music and the greatness of
his spirit will endure."
A public memorial is being planned and the date is yet to be announced.
"Johnny died due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in respiratory
failure," said Cash's manager, Lou Robin, in a press release issued by Baptist
Hospital in Nashville.
The release said Cash died at the hospital at 1 a.m. He was released from Baptist on
Wednesday of last week where he had spent two weeks being treated for an unspecified
Statement by Ed Benson, Executive Director of the Country Music
Association, on the death of Johnny Cash.
"Johnny Cash was an international ambassador for Country Music and a musical
trailblazer throughout his life, possessing one of the most recognisable names, faces and
voices the world has ever known. Recording music in six different decades, Cash remained
one of the music industry's most vital and important artists throughout his life as
demonstrated by his recent nominations for four CMA Awards, as well as the myriad of
honours and praise bestowed upon him during the last year. It is incomprehensible to
imagine what Country Music would have been like without Johnny Cash and his music. Through
the years CMA honoured him with six CMA Awards (including Entertainer of the Year in 1969)
and inducted him into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980. We are deeply saddened by
his loss, but find comfort in knowing that his music and influence will live
Visit Johnny's Official Website
Article by Roger Ryan
© September 15, 2003
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