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Johnny Cash married fellow singer June Carter in 1968 after proposing to her countless times. Over the years The Man In Black struggled with drug addiction, but June stuck by him through his many admissions to rehab. But on May 15, 2003, June Carter Cash died following complications from heart surgery and Johnny was devastated to lose the love of his life.
On July 5, 2003, Johnny Cash gave his final public performance and before singing Ring of Fire he read a statement to the audience.
The 71-year-old said: “The spirit of June Carter overshadows me tonight with the love she had for me and the love I have for her.
“We connect somewhere between here and Heaven. She came down for a short visit, I guess, from Heaven to visit with me tonight to give me courage and inspiration like she always has.
“She’s never been one for me except courage and inspiration. I thank God for June Carter. I love her with all my heart.”
Cash would die just several weeks later on September 12, 2003, having succumbed to respiratory failure brought on by diabetes.
But in his last days, the iconic singer, now confined to a wheelchair, showed incredible strength and continued to record what would become his posthumous releases in American V and IV.
Now in an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Johnny and June’s only child John Carter Cash has shared memories from his father’s final days.
The 50-year-old said: “In the face of his life’s greatest struggle, the face of his infirmities taking over and his inevitable death on the way, Dad didn’t only continue his creative endeavours of performing and singing but he actually quadrupled his efforts.”
Cash’s son, who was promoting the new album Johnny Cash and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, continued: “People say, ‘What is the greatest lesson your father ever taught to you?’, it’s how he lived by example. It’s the strength that endured within his very spirit when he was facing life’s greatest struggles.
“And that’s what stands out to me as his greatest life’s testament. He was an example, he was a good father and carried on no matter what.
“Even though he would have pneumonia, be able to barely breathe and three weeks later he was in the studio making music.”
The Man In Black truly had great resilience and really bounced back even then.
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Cash son added: “It was the way he lived his life when he was facing the end that I think was one of the most beautiful messages that he could relate.
“American V and IV were in majority recorded after my mother passed away.
“What’s amazing is you hear the frailty in his voice, you hear the sadness in his tone, you hear the loss that he struggled through.
“But if you listen more carefully you’ll hear the undeniable strength and beauty that is underneath it all; that is supporting him and carrying him on.”
The new Johnny Cash album features 12 of The Man in Black’s master recordings combined with the famous orchestra.
Both versions of I Walk The Line and Flesh and Blood included are previously unreleased alternate take from Johnny Cash’s soundtrack sessions for the 1970 Gregory Peck movie I Walk The Line.
Cash’s son added: “I know my father would be enormously excited to see this new album become a reality. I am beyond proud to introduce this masterwork, the essential work of Johnny Cash with the orchestra that he revered and appreciated above all else.”
Johnny Cash and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra his released on Friday, November 13, 2020.
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