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2003: Johnny Cash dies

One of the great legends of country music, Johnny Cash, has died aged 71.

His manager, Lou Robin, said he was taken ill and rushed to hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, with respiratory failure, but doctors could not save him.

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."

Cash, an icon of American country music since the 1950s, had been dogged by illness in recent years, and suffered from a nervous condition similar to Parkinson's disease.


"He had such a wealth of experience in his voice, heaven and hell and no-one could touch him."

Nick Cave, Australian singer

Tributes have been pouring in from around the world.

Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger said, "His influence spread over many generations of different people.

"I loved him as singer and a writer."

Australian singer Nick Cave, who appeared on Cash's last studio album, American IV, said, "He had such a wealth of experience in his voice, heaven and hell and no-one could touch him."

In a career spanning six decades, Johnny Cash became famous for his image as an outlaw figure, as well as for hits such as I Walk The Line and Ring Of Fire.

Early on, he created the image which would eventually define him. At his debut in 1957 at Nashville's famous country music venue, the Grand Ole Opry, he wore nothing but black when everyone around him was in bright colours and rhinestones.

He eventually became known as "The Man in Black".

His career took off in the 1960s, with hits such as A Boy Named Sue. But a gruelling schedule led to amphetamine and alcohol abuse which cost him his first marriage and almost ruined his career.

Then in 1968 he met his second wife, June Carter Cash, from country music's famous Carter family. Cash credited her with pulling him back from addiction.

She died earlier this year, aged 73, following complications from heart surgery.

Renewed popularity

Cash finished touring in 1997, but continued recording albums.

Most recently, his series of American Recordings albums covering modern artists brought him popularity with a new generation of younger fans.

In 2003, the video for his cover of Hurt by hard rock band Nine Inch Nails received critical acclaim and several nominations, including video of the year, at the MTV Video Music Awards.

In Context
Johnny Cash was buried alongside June Carter Cash in the Hendersonville Memory Gardens hear his home in Tennessee.

More than 1000 people attended his funeral service.

The video for his cover of Hurt, by hard rock band Nine Inch Nails, won the award for best short form video at the 2004 Grammy Awards. June Carter Cash also won a posthumous award at the same ceremony.

A boxed set of his recordings, entitled Unearthed, was issued posthumously. It included four CDs of unreleased material.


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