Johnny Cash Show: ABC Television Music Variety Show

In 1970, the Johnny Cash Show featured Ray Charles, Neil Diamond, and Tammy Wynette. In the show’s 19th episode,  Ray Charles performed a version of “Ring Of Fire”, and a short version of “Walk The Line.”

Background

 The Johnny Cash Show was a television variety show that was hosted by one of the most prestigious country music artist Johnny Cash. It had 58 episodes that started airing on June 7, 9169 to March 31, 1971, on the ABC Television Network.

“Hello, I am Johnny Cash” was Cash’s customary greeting as the opening number was concluded. The show’s other regular members were Johnny Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash, and the Carter Family, The Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three, with Australian born musical director-arranger and conductor Bill Walker. The Statler Brothers usually perform in between comic interludes and an instrumental version of “Folsom Prison Blues” was used for the opening credits.

The television series featured other folk-country musicians. This included: Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Kriss Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Merle Haggard, James Taylor, and Tammy Wynette.

Johnny Cash was asked by ABC to host a television show following the success of his live prison albums, At Folsom Prison, and At San Quentin. The show started as a summer replacement for the Saturday Night Extravaganza “The Hollywood Palace.” The show also featured some of the showbiz royalties such as Bob Hope, George Gobel, Kirk Douglas, Burl Ives, Peggy Lee, and Lorne Greene.

The Johnny Cash Show was recorded at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium which was the home of the Grand Ole Opry. Bill Carruthers served as the executive producer and director for the first season. The show also was a product of Stan Jacobson who also was its producer. The first episode featured Joni Mitchell, Cajun “fiddler” Doug Kershaw, Fannie Flagg and Bob Dylan.

The Johnny Cash Show had a segment called “Country Gold.” This featured music industry legends that were never seen or was rarely seen on the television scene. Some of the legends featured were Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys.

For the whole duration of the show, ABC had some “network anxieties.” But Johnny Cash persisted with the network and what he believed would work. For example, Cash refused to cut the word “stoned” from Kris Kristofferson’s Sunday Morning Coming Down. Moreover, Cash stood with his Christian faith despite ABC’s network anxieties and persisted that the show featured Pete Seeger, whos anti-Vietnam Wat Song caused a “firestorm” with another record.

Ring Of Fire

This song was originally written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore. June Carter is Cash’s wife, she wrote this song with the background of her relationship with Johnny. During the early stages of her marriage with Cash, Johnny was involved in drug addiction to which Carter wrote was like an experience around a “ring of fire.”

The song was written by Price when she was driving around aimlessly one night thinking of the devastating ways that Cash is in. She vented out her frustrations with the line “There is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns.” After four years, Cash’s life would be saved by his marriage with Carter.

Ray Charles

Ray Charles is an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer. He is often referred to in the music industry as “The Genius.”

Charles is known as he pioneered the soul music genre during the ‘50s. He combined the sound produced by blues, rhythm, and gospel. He also contributed to the country music scene by contributing his crossover songs on ABC Records. These started the crossover hits that added the styles of pop, rhythm, and blues to the traditional style of country music.

Charles was able to bag his first of the three songs that he had to peak at the number one of the Billboard Hot 100 charts with the song “Georgia On My Mind.” In 1962 his album “Modern Sounds in Country And Western Music” became the first album of Charles to top the Billboard top 200.

With his award-winning career, Charles was able to bag 17 Grammy Awards. He was also honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1957 together with 10 of his songs to be a part of the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash is one of the best selling music artists of all time. Cash was able to sell 90 million records worldwide. His genre featured the styles of country, rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel. With this wide coverage of Cash’s songs, he was able to captivate the wide audience of Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music.

Cash was born in Arkansas to a poor cotton farmer family. After serving for four years in the United States Air Force, Cash rose to fame in the prominent music scene in Memphis Tennessee. Cash had a deep, calm bass-baritone voice that enabled him to produce a distinctive sound. To complement his voice, Cash’s band the “Tennessee Three” was known to produce a unique sound, of chugging guitar rhythms.

Cash also had trademarks with the rebellious characteristic that was complemented by an increasingly somber and humble demeanor that he had, he also had free prison concerts, and an unforgettable trademark of having an all-black wardrobe which later on earned him the nickname “Man in Black.” As he performed in his concerts, he was known to start off with his famous line “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” that was to be followed by his signature song “Folsom Prison Blues.” This trademark wasn’t just evident in Cash’s concerts but was also adopted to his television variety show that started with the same pattern.

Cash’s songs revolve around the themes of sorrow, moral tribulation, and redemption. This was much evident through the later years of his career. Cash had signature songs like: I Walk the Line“, “Ring of Fire“, “Get Rhythm, and “Man in Black“. Cash also wrote some humorous songs such as,  “One Piece at a Time” and “A Boy Named Sue; a duet with his future wife, June Carter called Jackson (followed by many further duets after their wedding); and railroad songs including “Hey, Porter”, “Orange Blossom Special”, and “Rock Island Line”.