Talk:Johnny Cash

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Former featured article Johnny Cash is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on January 2, 2005.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
September 13, 2004 Featured article candidate Promoted
March 12, 2006 Featured article review Demoted
June 27, 2006 Peer review Reviewed
Current status: Former featured article

Something Doesn't Add Up[edit]

The wiki for Johnny says he was 71 when he died. Yet Rosanne Cash's page says she's 59, that would make Johnny 12 years old when Rosanne was born. Somewhere there is a mistake. Rosanne is either younger, or Johnny was older. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:42, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Nevermind. My mistake, He was 23 when Rosanne was born. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:46, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Most influential musicians[edit]

Opus88888 has taken it upon himself to repeatedly blank out the referenced claim that Cash is "one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century", simply because Opus regards this as "exaggeration". I warned Opus not to remove sourced information without offering a sufficient reason, but he ignored me, and even encouraged me to report him for vandalism. It does not matter if Opus regards the claim as exaggeration, in fact, it does not matter what Opus or any other editor thinks, referenced information cannot be removed simply because we disagree with it. Period. I encourage other editors to join in this discussion. ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 14:30, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Cash is "one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century" is indeed an exaggeration and is not what the cited source says. The unnamed writer of the obituary in Eugene's The Register-Guard describes Cash as "one of the most influential pupular (sic) music stars – especially in the areas of country music and rock 'n' roll – of the 20th century." The exaggeration is made worse by linking to 20th-century music, a vast field where Cash's influence is obviously limited. Moreover, the principles outlined at WP:NEWSORG recommend to disregard a statement like this altogether. On balance, given the prominent position of this claim and the principle of "extraordinary claims need extraordinary sources", I agree with its removal. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 01:29, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for examining the issues involved, Michael. I have no opinion about the claim one way or the other, though there is also an NYT ref. for the claim, as well. My point from the beginning, and what I said above, is that he offered no valid reason, never even attempted to do so, for his blanking the information. He is just as capable as you or I to come to the talk page and make his case for it's removal. I believe valid sources can be found for the claim, but that does not mean it belongs in the lede. ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 01:42, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree with your point that User:Opus88888 should have engaged in discussion. BTW, I can't see how the NYT article supports this specific claim ("most influential"); the author, Stephen Holden, mentions JC's influence on rock 'n' roll and writes of his "incalculable influence on music", but I'm pretty sure he doesn't mean (all of) "the music of the 20th century". -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 04:49, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
A more narrow wording about his influence on rock and country would be easier to cite. The music of the 20th century link should never have been added, clearly. ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 14:52, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Native American Heritage[edit]

The article's assertion Though he did not have Native American ancestry may require references; in Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest (around the 32:00 mark) John tells Pete that he was part Cherokee and "proud of it", and whether or not he was, he certainly believed he was at the time of writing those songs. --Teledyn (talk) 15:49, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

Humanitarianism and Activism[edit]

I have been doing independent research on Johnny Cash's humanitarian and activist work. I have compiled several credible sources while doing this research that I would be glad to share to help improve Cash's Wikipedia page. I do not, however, know how to cite articles on the Wikipedia page. If I supplied links to the sources, is there anyone who would be willing to create a properly cited "Humanitarianism and Activism" section to Cash's page? There is certainly enough material to justify a section. (Darth Septic (talk) 02:51, 10 December 2013 (UTC))

Awkward wording[edit]

The book reportedly does not hold back any details about the darker side of Johnny Cash and includes details about his affair with his pregnant wife June Carter's sister.[95]

is a bit awkward in the wording department. How about "The book reportedly does not hold back any details about the darker side of Johnny Cash and includes details about his affair with June Carter's sister, which occurred while June Carter was pregnant.[95]"? (talk) 18:35, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

His Name[edit]

Why does it say "John R. "Johnny" Cash"? His name was JR. Just the initials. His birth name is stated correctly in the background information section. His name was not, and has never been John. His family called him JR, his wife called him JR and he was registered as JR. His stage name was Johnny. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Fndeboer (talkcontribs) 18:45, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Did you look at the inscription on his grave? -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 05:28, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
PS: … and ? -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 05:29, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
The article clearly states that he changed his name to John R for military service, and since he bought his first guitar while stationed in Germany, that pre-dates his celebrity. --Teledyn (talk) 15:38, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 19 February 2014[edit]

why not? (talk) 18:51, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

X mark.svg Not done - Because.... Arjayay (talk) 18:57, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Something else that doesn't add up[edit]

In the section on Cash's early life, he is listed as the fourth of five children, but when the names of the siblings are given it appears that there were in fact seven children in the Cash family. One or other of these pieces of information is clearly wrong; I'm guessing the former but perhaps a Cash expert out there could set the record straight one way or the other.Brooklyn Eagle (talk) 22:38, 5 October 2014 (UTC)

Corrected. Thanks for pointing this out, Brooklyn Eagle. -- WV 22:49, 5 October 2014 (UTC)


In the info box should it say which were his biological and/or step children? I couldn't work it out from his page and had to click on the individual links (where there are any) to find out. (talk) 20:13, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

That's a good question. I don't know that WP:BLP or WP:MOS guidelines have any specific criteria where this is concerned, but it seems to me if the children were legally adopted, convention would be not to make that distinction, at least not in the infobox. These distinctions should, however, generally be discussed in the prose sections and in this case the article could stand for a little more detail as regards familial relationships. Snow talk 09:22, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

Can I get some thoughts on a change of photo for the infobox?[edit]

It's purely a stylistic matter, but I much favour File:JohnnyCash1969.jpg for the infobox photo; it captures Cash closer towards the middle of his career (and arguably at the height of his popularity) and typifies the "Man in Black" persona and image that came to be so closely associated with him. And I just think it's a more encyclopedic-looking choice for lead photo than an autograph. Thoughts? Snow talk 09:17, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

I really like the new photo. It indeed reflects the image of him that was his popular image. Nice choice. Rocket-Fueled (talk) 03:50, 27 February 2015 (UTC)


I don't think it can be confidently asserted what his ancestry was. He certainly could have been partially Native American, as he once believed. His appearance would support this, but it would also support a Scottish ancestry. It is false to assume the official birth, death, and marriage records are correct, particularly in an era when illegitimacy and racism were burning issues.--Jack Upland (talk) 03:30, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

At present we have three distinct reliable sources which support this claim. And note that the claim is not that he had proven genetic markers for a given heredity, but that he researched his ancestry and these were his results. That fact is amply sourced by the references in question and I don't see a policy-consistent argument for removing the mention. Snow talk 05:34, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't think it should be removed, but I think the issue could be presented more neutrally. To the issues raised above, I think it is worthwhile noting that his ancestors were hillbillies (which he never denied) and not necessarily literate. I don't think references which cite the opinions of train spotters should completely obliterate common sense.--Jack Upland (talk) 21:38, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
Well claims of absolute ancestry are almost always uncertain short of genetic testing, whether the people trying to establish them are hillbillies or bluebloods. But again, no claim of absolute ancestry is being made here; the article only states that Cash investigated the matter (using the genealogical techniques that were common at the time -- and still are) and that he came to certain conclusions about his ancestry. We don't need to know the quality of the evidence he turned up in order to assert what he himself believed. All of that said, if the crux of your concerns is neutral wording, it can't hurt to examine that, but can you be more specific? Do you mean, for example, that where it says "Cash Loch and other locations in Fife bear his family name." we should instead say "Cash Loch and other locations in Fife bear the same name as his family."? On a separate note, I don't currently see any mention of the possible Native American ancestry. Was that present at some point but removed for sourcing issues or is it just a tidbit about what Cash believed that you had previous knowledge of separate from work on the article? Snow talk 03:27, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
See Section 3 above. In the article, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian, it says:
Cash had been convinced that his ancestry included members of the Cherokee tribe, and this partly served as inspiration for recording Bitter Tears, but later on as he began researching his ancestry, he actually had no Cherokee ancestry, but Scottish, English, and Scots-Irish ancestry.
This is borne out by the cover of the album which shows Cash dressed as a Native American. I think the wording in Wikipedia clearly implies a certainty that isn't justified.--Jack Upland (talk) 01:15, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
I think we could fix that some by adding a reference to that article: if we show that Cash at first thought his ancestry was Cherokee and then later Scottish, then we demonstrate further that this belief was based upon his personal research using genealogical resources and presumably family lore -- though of course, there's no reason he couldn't have been of both heritages. I personally think the present wording makes it clear that his Scottish ancestry was established only by his own research and not anything more absolute, but as you have a concern that it's ambigous, I think the best way to underscore the nature of the evidence is to point out that he had to different interpretations at different times (though, to be fair, do we know that he abandoned the Cherokee belief for the Scottish one, or did he assume both to be true?) Snow talk 01:42, 8 February 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 23 February 2015[edit]

Please add in after "Cash felt great compassion for prisoners.", even though he only spent three days in jail during his entire life. ["Cash, Johnny - At Folsom Prison." Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 4th ed. Ed. Colin Larkin. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.] Todwoodrow (talk) 00:54, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done [1], on AGF. G S Palmer (talkcontribs) 20:20, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

What does the "R" stand for in his name?[edit]

The article doesn't indicate what the R stands for in his name. (talk) 18:47, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

The "R" doesn't stand for anything. His parents named him "J.R." but he was not permitted to use initials as his legal first (and middle) name in joining the Air Force, so self-selected "John" as his first name (and legally changed it). Hence the "R" is just "R".Dwpaul Talk 19:03, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
This should be indicated (that the R doesn't stand for anything). I'm sure one of the biographies can be used as a citation. (talk) 22:10, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
It's in the early life section. --Onorem (talk) 22:18, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
If anyone has an account with TV, they say the R stands for Robert. If that's erroneous, someone might want to go over there and correct it. See [2]. (talk) 22:54, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
As an avid WWII researcher, I've come across many instances in which a person with only initials for a given name has served in the United States Armed Forces under just those initials, so I don't see that as a likely explanation as to how/why he adopted the name John R. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:41, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
That is what our cited source (the Streissguth biography) says here. Unless you can find another citable source with another theory, that is what the article should state. Dwpaul Talk 17:46, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

White House song list[edit]

The article says the April 1970 performance at the White House included the song "Man in Black" (which according to other sources wasn't introduced until 1971) and "Ballad of Ira Hayes". The Columbia/Legacy CD "Bootleg Vol. III: Live Around the World" purports to have the complete White House show, and neither song is listed. According to the CD, the song list was A Boy Named Sue, Five Feet High and Rising, Pickin Time, Wreck of the Old 97, Lumberjack, Jesus Was a Carpenter, What is Truth, Peace in the Valley, He Turned the Water Into Wine, Were You There, Daddy Sang Bass and The Old Account. I placed a citation/fact tag on this in case there's a source to indicate that these two songs were indeed included (and thus omitted by Columbia Records in its release, which is possible, as after Nixon's opening remarks the CD goes into A Boy Named Sue and Cash is heard referring to it as his second song), even though I thought "Man in Black" wasn't performed for the first time until 1971 (but certainly the idea of him previewing a new song for the president isn't out of the question). (talk) 22:10, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

The song list is given at the cited ref:

Cash followed “Sue” with several songs: How High is the Water, Pickin’ Time, Wreck of Old 97, Lumberjack, Jesus Was a Carpenter, What Is Truth?, I Wish I Had Someone to Love Me, Folsom Prison Blues.

He was then joined by June Carter and they sang “Jackson” and “Darlin Companion.” For “Peace in the Valley” and “He Turned the Water into Wine,” his backup was the Statler Brothers and the Carter Family. For “Daddy Sang Bass,” he was joined by Carl Perkins, June Carter, the Statler Brothers, and the Carter Family. The end of the performance was a bravura medley with June Carter reprising “Folsom Prison Blues,” Mother Maybelle and the Carter Family singing “I Walk the Line,” the Statler Brothers (“Ring of Fire”), Carl Perkins (“Folsom Prison Blues”), and Johnny Cash with the Tennessee Three singing “Johnny Yuma.” The finale was the entire cast singing the valedictory “Suppertime.” [3]

No mention here of either Man In Black or Ira Hayes. Dwpaul Talk 22:26, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
The source doesn't list them all, though, as "Five Feet High and Rising", for example, is not mentioned, while there are other songs mentioned that are not included in the "complete" show featured on Bootleg III. So it's possible Ira Hayes and Man in Black were still performed unless someone has heard the complete recording or the Congressional Record has the complete song list or something like that! (talk) 22:53, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
It's possible, though I would expect the Nixon Library to be the authoritative source for an event that occurred in the Nixon White House. I'd guess the blog entry was pretty thoroughly researched before it was posted. Recording companies have been known to throw a few extra tracks, sometimes not what they purport to be (different sessions, etc.), on an album before. Dwpaul Talk 22:58, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
The Johnny Cash Infocenter site has a (nearly) complete set list. No Ira Hayes and no Man in Black though there is a "Closing Medley" listed that doesn't indicate what songs are included (though the ones suggested above sound likely). But there are definitely tracks not included on the CD such as Jackson, Suppertime. The sites says however that the first song is indeed missing from the audio and it doesn't say what song that would be. I can't imagine Cash would start a show with a downer like Ira Hayes; it was more likely I Walk the Line or Ring of Fire, even if Line was included in the medley later.[4] (talk) 15:09, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
But what do the Nixon Tapes say?--Jack Upland (talk) 08:33, 15 April 2015 (UTC)

Chicken in Black[edit]

I have rewritten the paragraph involving this infamous recording, as the latest major biography of Cash, Robert Hilburn's Johnny Cash: A Life, gives a completely different account of how the song came to be, most significantly, that Cash did not record it to sabotage his contract; Columbia offered it to him and Cash was hoping for another A Boy Named Sue, and he only soured on the song when Waylon Jennings said he looked silly in the music video. Since the previous account did not have a citation, I have replaced it with this major source. (talk) 19:00, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

It would be good to get another source on this. Who wrote the song? I don't think it's a bad song in any case, and it's not out of line with other humourous songs Cash performed. There are other websites which repeat the previous account, but they aren't reliable sources, and could be based on Wikipedia.--Jack Upland (talk) 08:44, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
According to sources like and this, it was written by Gary Lee Gentry, who also wrote "We Didn't See a Thing" for George Jones and Ray Charles. Very little about him online though. Ghmyrtle (talk) 08:54, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
The origin seems mysterious. Did Gentry write a parody of Cash and then offer it to Columbia for Cash to sing?--Jack Upland (talk) 09:26, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
There is some background information here. Ghmyrtle (talk) 09:50, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
That's the book I sourced for this information. Hilburn was a journalist who profiled Cash for decades and he wrote the book based on interviews done with Cash himself, among others. As the most recent major biography of Cash it's probably safe to call it a definitive source unless a reliable source is located to debunk the story. It should also be noted that YouTube has a 1984 Christmas Special that Johnny Cash made for TV that features the Chicken in Black video near the very start of the show. (talk) 02:55, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
This 2014 article in The Guardian about the Out Among the Stars album also gives a similar story regarding Chicken in Black, that it was an earnest recording and not a protest: [5] (talk) 19:19, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

Guitar playing style[edit]

Has there been anything written about Cash's unusual guitar playing style? Many clips of him performing show him strumming his guitar way up on the frets. Was this possibly an attempt at doing the "boom-chicka-boom" effect without the piece of paper under the strings? (talk) 02:55, 16 June 2015 (UTC)

Abuse of sources and edit warring[edit]

Johnny Cash was the first punk? And this is what opens his legacy? Sorry, but the sources say nothing of the sort, and the misinterpreted claim is ludicrously UNDUE. What's worse is that Jack Upland has nearly WP:3RRed despite having already been warned. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 04:01, 17 January 2016 (UTC)

The history shows you abusively deleted someone else's text (not mine) on the grounds that it didn't fit the two sources given. Attempting to take notice of your complaints, I then substituted a reworded text which quoted one of the sources, which you also deleted, saying that I shouldn't "misrepresent the sources in such a bald-faced manner". These sources were entitled "The Original Punk Rocker" and "Johnny Cash Made the Most Punk Rock Album Ever. In 1969." I don't think any of the deleted sentences were bald-faced misrepresentations. I didn't comply with your request to take it to the talk page, because I really have nothing much to say about whether Cash was a punk. But "Hurt" was one of his last hits...--Jack Upland (talk) 04:40, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
The article claimed "Cash's rebellious image and often anti-authoritarian stance have been credited by some with influencing punk rock."—a claim not made in either of the sources cited. Aggravating this egregious misrepresentation of the sources, this was the opening sentence of the "Legacy" section. This is unacceptable, and reinstating (even reworded versions of) the text is even worse. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 05:47, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
Why??? My rewording actually quoted from one of the articles. How would you sum up the articles accurately??? And how is a complaint about the placement of text a justification for deleting it???--Jack Upland (talk) 06:02, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
I wouldn't, unless there were some sort of general consensus on Cash's relation to punk. On top of that, you're otherwise claiming his primary legacy is his (extraordinarily tenuous if at all existent) relation to punk—actual giving it more prominence than his relation to, y'know', country music. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 06:16, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
I think you just object to the topic being mentioned. OK, but I don't really understand the "filth and the fury".--Jack Upland (talk) 07:36, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
I think you're grasping at straws and have made no effort to comprehend why the material might be objectionable. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:20, 17 January 2016 (UTC)

Awards and Honours[edit]

In the 2nd para, we have ...presence in four major music halls of fame:... which are named, but in the next sentence we see ...and only Hank Williams Sr., Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills, and Bill Monroe share the honor with Cash of being in all three. So what's what here? Which 3? Or should that be four? (talk) 09:33, 6 March 2016 (UTC)