In 1963, the world of country music was blessed with another iconic song – and it’s none other than Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” The single appeared on Cash’s album, Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash.
Written by his wife June Carter Cash and singer-songwriter Merle Kilgore, the song tells the tale of June and Johnny Cash’s relationship. June revealed that being around Cash felt like a “ring of fire” was surrounding her.
As Johnny Cash‘s career was taking off in the late 1950s, the country singer started drinking heavily and struggled with drug addiction. He faced a turning point in 1967 when June Carter was there to help him.
June’s sister, Anita Carter, was actually the first to record the song – just a few months before The Man in Black did. However, when Cash heard Anita’s version, the country legend claimed that he heard the song in his dream, and it was accompanied by “Mexican horns.”
Cash made a deal with Anita, telling her that if she won’t make a hit out of “Ring of Fire” within five or six months, he will record the song the way he feels it. He remarked that adding trumpets would absolutely change his basic sound.
Indeed, Cash had it his way! The song failed to become a big hit for Anita, and the country legend recorded the way he wanted it to be or the way he has heard it from his dream – adding the mariachi-style horns.
“Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash then became one of his biggest hits – reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart and holding that position for seven remarkable weeks.
Clearly, even if the country singer is recognized for a variety of profound Johnny Cash songs – his name will forever be connected with this fiery hit. You can listen to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” in the video below.