Johnny Cash: The Biography

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Da Capo Press, Sep 4, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 334 pages
To millions, he was the rebellious man in black, the unabashed patriot, the redeemed Christian, the king of country music. Yet Johnny Cash (1932-2003) was also an uncertain country boy whose dreams carried him from the cotton fields of Mississippi to the vanguard of popular music, all the while struggling with the all-too-real pain of a guilt-ridden childhood, chemical addictions, and self-doubt. Johnny Cash: The Biography--the first American independent, critical biography of Cash in thirty-five years--will delve into oft-overlooked moments in his life and career: the tragic death of his older brother Jack; his Air Force career (1950-1954), when his songwriting took form and he purchased his first guitar; the origins of the boom-chicka-boom rhythm; his drug dependency, which is generally thought to have disappeared in the 1960s yet actually continued to plague him privately for the rest of his life; the deep love he shared with his second wife June Carter Cash; and his relationship with the young producer Rick Rubin, which revitalized his career yet raised numerous contradictions about Cash's values and craft. Insightful, thorough, and profound, Johnny Cash: The Biography is the truest portrait yet to emerge of this American icon. One Benzedrine Could Have Kept Him Alert For A Day Or Two through the monotonous and grueling concert tours where Cash made his money, but he gobbled jars full of them. Obtaining the pills from shady Mexican suppliers and American physicians who were either star struck or ignorant to the devastation of prolonged and copious consumption, he always had hundreds of the capsules within his reach. Guitarist George Riddle, who backed George Jones on the road andlike Billy Walker rode the package tours with Cash, marveled at the singer's appetite and supply: "Like everybody else on the show we would observe Johnny taking handfuls of pills. I know one time he called us out into a back alley. We were in Des Moines, Iowa, and he was in one of these little pick up trucks with a camper on the top. He just got back from Mexico. He said, 'Boys, look what I got.' And he opened up a drawer. He had one of those candy scoopers like you pick up jelly beans with and he said, 'How many do you want?' That camper was loaded down." Although his drug use proved to be a lifelong habit, the most intense years stretched from 1958 to 1967 when he consumed the pills with little restraint. As a family member observed years later, moderation had no place in Cash's vocabulary: "John had this thing...probably his entire life: If one's good, twenty's got to be really good."
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - SeanLong - LibraryThing

Streissguth doesn’t gush over Cash and debunks a lot of myths and exaggerations that cloaked Cash over the years, and although the tone rings pure, there seems to have been a lot of stories that grew ... Read full review

Johnny Cash: the biography

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

An American legend's biographer must keep the story compelling and fresh, inserting new interviews, revealing details and a delicate balance of respect and criticism. Streissguth (Johnny Cash at ... Read full review

Contents

Deliverance
3
Guilt
22
Dreams
33
Memphis
51
Two A Fiery Ring 19561967
67
Fame
69
California
85
J R John Johnny
101
The Gospel Road
172
Four A ColdWild Wind 19731993
189
Legend
191
Addiction
206
Branson
222
Five One More Ride 19942003
239
Drive On
241
Unchained
260

Balladeer
112
SelfDestruction
127
Three Slow and Free 19681972
141
Folsom
143
Ovation
157
The Gloaming
274
Notes
291
Bibliography
316
Index
325
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Michael Streissguth is the author of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, editor of Ring of Fire, and an associate professor of English at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York.

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