A truly original American, “The Man in Black” has just passed away.
[quote=“AP”]Johnny Cash Dies at 71
NEW YORK - Johnny Cash (news), a towering figure in American music spanning country, rock and folk and known worldwide as “The Man in Black,” has died, according to hospital officials in Nashville, Tenn. He was 71.
“Johnny died due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in respiratory failure,” said Cash’s manager, Lou Robin, in a press release issued by Baptist Hospital in Nashville.
The release said Cash died at the hospital at 1 a.m. EDT. He was released from Baptist on Wednesday where he had spent two weeks being treated for an unspecified stomach ailment.
“I hope that friends and fans of Johnny will pray for the Cash family to find comfort during this very difficult time,” Robin said.
Cash had battled a disease of the nervous system, autonomic neuropathy, and pneumonia in recent years and was once diagnosed with a disease called Shy-Drager’s syndrome, a diagnosis that was later deemed to be erroneous.
Dozens of hit records like “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Walk the Line,” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down” defined Cash’s persona: a haunted, dignified, resilient spokesman for the working man and downtrodden.
Cash’s deeply lined face fit well with his unsteady voice, which was limited in range but used to great effect to sing about prisoners, heartaches, and tales of everyday life. He wrote much of his own material, and was among the first to record the songs of Bob Dylan (news) and Kris Kristofferson (news).
“One Piece at a Time” was about an assembly line worker who built a car out of parts stolen from his factory. “A Boy Named Sue” was a comical story of a father who gives his son a girl’s name to make him tough. “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” told of the drunken death of an American Indian soldier who helped raised the American flag at Iwo Jima during World War II, but returned to harsh racism in America.
Cash said in his 1997 autobiography “Cash” that he tried to speak for “voices that were ignored or even suppressed in the entertainment media, not to mention the political and educational establishments.”
Cash’s career spanned generations, with each finding something of value in his simple records, many of which used his trademark “boom-chicka-boom” rhythm.
Cash was a peer of Elvis Presley when rock ‘n’ roll was born in Memphis in the 1950s, and he scored hits like “Cry! Cry! Cry!” during that era. He had a longtime friendship and recorded with Dylan, who has cited Cash as a major influence.
He won 11 Grammys