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Last Updated: Friday, 12 September, 2003, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Country legend Cash dies
Johnny Cash
Cash played at the Americana Awards in 2002 with wife June
Singer Johnny Cash, one of country music's most enduring stars, has died in the US aged 71.

Cash died in hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, after complications from diabetes, which resulted in respiratory failure, his manager Lou Robin said.

Cash became an icon of American country music from the 1950s, with songs such as I Walk the Line and Ring of Fire.

He was recently in hospital for two weeks with a stomach complaint and had only been released on Tuesday.

Mr Robin added: "I hope that friends and fans of Johnny will pray for the Cash family to find comfort during this very difficult time."

Images spanning the career of Johnny Cash.

U2 singer Bono led the tributes, saying "he was more than wise", and likened Cash to an oak tree in a garden of weeds.

"I considered myself a friend, he considered me a fan - he indulged me."

Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger added his voice, saying: "His influence spread over many generations of different people. I loved him as singer and a writer."

And Nick Cave, who worked with the singer, said: "He had such a wealth of experience in his voice, heaven and hell and no-one could touch him."

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash
1956 - I Walk the Line, his first US chart single
1963 - Ring of Fire, written with wife June (above) and one of his best-loved songs
1968 - Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison, seen by many as his best album
1969 - A Boy Named Sue, got to number two and won a Grammy
1994 - American Recordings album helped him to a successful comeback
2003 - Hurt, a cover of a Nine Inch Nails track, will be remembered as his swansong

Cash was regarded as one of the most important figures in country music, with a career that spanned six decades.

He become as famous for his image as an outlaw figure, for playing in prisons and creating the myth of the Man in Black, his semi-official nickname.

In recent years, he also suffered from Shy-Drager, a condition similar to Parkinson's disease that attacks the nervous system and affects muscle control.

The singer's wife, June Carter Cash, with whom he recorded many songs, died in May following complications from heart surgery.

Cash was born in Arkansas in 1932 and started writing songs at the age of 12, influenced by country music on the radio.

In 1957, he became the first artist to release a full album on the influential Sun record label, beating Elvis Presley.

Singing in a gruff, baritone voice, he went on to have hits in the 1960s with Ring of Fire and A Boy Named Sue.

But his gruelling schedule led to him become addicted to amphetamines and his drug abuse led to the collapse of his first marriage to wife Vivianne.

In the mid 60s, he met June Carter Cash, from country music's famous Carter family. She co-wrote Ring of Fire, giving him a top ten hit, and the pair married in 1968.

His most famous albums included Folsom Prison Blues, a 1968 live album recorded at a jail concert.

Modern covers

During his career, Cash won 11 Grammy Awards, most recently a Best Male Country Vocal Performance for Give My Love To Rose.

He finished touring in 1997, but continued recording albums.

And he found popularity with a new generation of fans with his series of American Recordings albums, on which he covered modern artists.

They included versions of Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus, U2's One, and Cave's The Mercy Seat, and were recorded across four albums.

This year, the video for his cover of Hurt by hard rock band Nine Inch Nails received critical acclaim and six nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards.

The BBC's Nick Higham
"He bought his first guitar at the age of 15 - five years later he was jamming with Elvis Presley"


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