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Country Weekly honors the legendary pioneer -- the "Man In Black"

Many have sold more records. Others can boast of cleaner reputations. But no one has had a bigger effect on country music than Johnny Cash.

To honor his lifetime of contributions, Country Weekly is proud to present Johnny with this year's Career Achievement Award.

The numbers alone could tell the story of Johnny's legacy. He's placed more than 130 singles on the charts since 1955 (a tally exceeded only by George Jones). Fourteen of those hit No. 1, with nearly 40 more cracking the Top 10.

Johnny has also won 11 Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, and three CMA Awards. He is the youngest artist ever elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

But the numbers are only the beginning. Johnny looms even larger as an artist who crossed the boundaries between country, folk and rock to create his own unique style. In fact, many of his songs - including "I Walk The Line," "Ring Of Fire" and "A Boy Named Sue" - were smash hits on the pop charts as well. He is one of the few country stars also elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The fiercely independent entertainer also helped break the barriers of country's long-standing image. Instead of cowboy hats and overalls, Johnny donned black outfits that gave him a mysterious, but appealing, look and inspired his nickname, the Man In Black.

He further defied convention through his music - writing and performing tunes that took on social importance, such as "The Ballad Of Ira Hayes," about a Native American World War II hero, and "Folsom Prison Blues."

He recorded those tunes in the '60s, a time when country still adhered to conservative messages and themes. But Johnny's brave new direction helped paved the way for the "Outlaw" movement of the '70s, whose chief figures were Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

Johnny also found success in television, hosting The Johnny Cash Show on ABC from 1969-1971. And he took his talents to the big screen, starring in the western A Gunfight and several other movies.

Johnny Cash is truly a man who's done it all - and is still doing it. He has just released a new album, American IV: The Man Comes Around, and declares that there's still more recording left in him.

Six decades of music and going strong - no one walks taller than the Man In Black.

-- Bob Paxman

See all the winners of this year's Fan Favorite Awards in the current (1/07/03) "Newsstand Issue" on sale now!