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Johnny Cash always maintained that his two 1960s live albums, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison and Johnny Cash at San Quentin, were "natural ideas." He had been performing prison concerts since 1956, when the rousing "Folsom Prison Blues" first hit the charts and caught the attention of inmates everywhere.
"I thought that if I ever did a live concert album," he once recalled, "a prison would be the ideal place for it - especially if I chose songs the prisoners could relate to." Johnny and his producer contacted officials at California's Folsom Prison, who gave their approval for a live album to be recorded there in 1968.
The following year, Johnny performed a live concert at San Quentin in California. Johnny Cash at San Quentin hit No. 1 on the country and pop charts, and Johnny would later declare, "That album definitely led to me getting my own TV show in 1969."
Johnny's "prison albums" won CMA Awards in their respective years, and the honors continued to roll in - on Nov. 21, 1986, both were certified double platinum, marking sales of two million copies each.
The albums also gave rise to a widely believed, but completely untrue, rumor - that Johnny himself had served time in prison.