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It’s hard to believe that 10 years have lapsed since the passing of one of the most recognizable figures in country music—Johnny Cash.
Just shy of four months following the death of his wife, June Carter Cash, Johnny died from complications of diabetes, although many credit the timing of his passing to a broken heart over June’s passing.
On the 10th anniversary of the death of the Man in Black, Country Weekly looks back on his legacy, his influence on the current crop of country stars and we give you a peek into the new Johnny Cash Museum, located in Nashville.
Johnny Cash found his greatest strength in his marriage to June Carter.
For all his success, Johnny Cash was a man plagued by personal demons in his early days, largely stemming from his impoverished, hardscrabble childhood in Arkansas. He battled substance and alcohol abuse, which wore him down and nearly took his life.
By the fall of 1967, Johnny was severely underweight from increased use of amphetamines and pills. “I was a walking vision of death,” he once wrote about himself, “and that’s exactly how I felt.”
Johnny eventually weaned himself from his bad habits and always credited wife June Carter Cash, whom he married in 1968, with helping him conquer those addictions. June only agreed to marry Johnny if he promised to clean up. The two first met backstage at the Grand Ole Opry in 1956 and Johnny, married to another woman at the time, felt an instant attraction. June was also smitten but cautious at the same time because of Johnny’s wild reputation. She expressed her feelings in the song “Ring of Fire,” written with Merle Kilgore, which became a No. 1 hit for Johnny in 1963.
Johnny reportedly proposed to June several times before she finally accepted in 1968, during a now-famous concert in Franklin, Ky.
They stayed together until June’s death from heart failure on May 15, 2003. Friends knew it would only be a matter of time before a heartbroken Johnny would pass away. Johnny died Sept. 12, 2003, at the age of 71.
He once said that June would “lift me up when I was weak, encourage me when I was discouraged and love me when I felt alone and unlovable. She’s the greatest woman I have ever known.”
Pick up the Sept. 16 issue of Country Weekly for the full story, on stands now.