As an emeritus member of both the Country Music and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, winner of the 1991 Grammy Legend Award, and with more than a hundred and fifty charted hits to his credit, Johnny Cash is the Grand Old Man of Nashville. The son of an Arkansas sharecropper, Cash grew up dirt-poor (he nearly died of starvation as an infant). He went on to stints in the Army and as an appliance salesman before making it big. In 1955, he signed with Sam Phillips
Sun Records, joining Elvis Presley
, Jerry Lee Lewis
, and Carl Perkins
(the foursome known as "The Million-Dollar Quartet"). "Folsom Prison Blues" ("I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die . . . "), "I Walk the Line," "Guess Things Happen That Way," and other hits quickly established Cash
as a major player on both the pop and country scenes, and by the mid-sixties, with a continuing stream of top-sellers (such as "Ring of Fire") to his credit, he was one of the most popular artists in the country. But as his career soared, Cash
reached a personal low. Battles with drugs and liquor affected both his performances and his marriage to his first wife, Vivian Liberto. He became so violent during one 1965 Nashville show that he was banned from playing at the Grande Ole Opry.Johnny discovered the Bible in the late sixties; God and singing partner June Carter, who he married in 1968, helped him clean up his act. In 1969, Cash won two Grammys for his smash live album, Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison, and sold more records in the U.S. than the Beatles. He also starred in a hit variety program for ABC which ran until 1971. While continuing to record dozens of secular and spiritual albums, he began a modest movie career. Now in his sixties, the Man in Black is making headlines again after a number of years out of the spotlight. In 1992 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and 1993 saw him contribute a vocal performance to U2's Zooropa album.