Johnny Cash performs at Folsom Prison

Johnny Cash performs at Folsom Prison


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In the midst of depression and a steep decline in his musical career, legendary country singer Johnny Cash arrives to play for inmates at California's Folsom Prison on January 13, 1968. The concert and the subsequent live album launched him back into the charts and re-defined his career.

Despite his outlaw image, Cash never went to prison, save for a few nights drying out in various jails. It was not his own experience but rather the crime film Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison that inspired him to pen "Folsom Prison Blues," which was a modest hit for Cash in 1956. The song, characteristically mournful, is written from the point of view of an inmate "stuck in Folsom Prison" after shooting a man in Reno "just to watch him die" - Cash explained that he wanted to come up with the most senseless reason imaginable for the speaker to have committed murder. A decade later, Cash's alcoholism and addiction to pills had taken a marked toll on his health. Cash was popular in prisons across America and was known to correspond with imprisoned fans, and first played at Folsom in 1966 on the suggestion of a local preacher. Two years later, needing something to jump-start his career, he convinced his record company to let him record a live album there.

Cash felt a personal responsibility to put on a good show at Folsom. He rehearsed feverishly in the days leading up to the concert and taught himself "Greystone Chapel," a song written by Folsom inmate Glen Sherley. Despite the presence of armed guards on the walkways above them, and the warden's prohibition against standing during the show, Cash's audience was raucous, invigorating the performers and lending a unique verve to the live recording. Cash tailored the setlist to prisoners, including the namesake song and ending with "Greystone Chapel." The album went to No. 1, as did a subsequent album recorded at San Quentin, and suddenly Cash was a household name again.

The iconic performance linked Cash permanently with prisoners in the American imagination. In his 1971 song "Man in Black," Cash explains that he adopted his trademark dark clothing in solidarity with "the poor and the beaten down" as well as "the prisoner who has long paid for his crime." Cash testified before Congress and met with President Richard Nixon to discuss prison reform in 1972, and continued to crusade on behalf of the imprisoned for the rest of his career. Live at Folsom Prison stands as a testament to the bond he felt with inmates as well as a major entry in the canon of 20th Century American music.

READ MORE: I Went With Johnny Cash to Folsom Prison


This Day In History: Johnny Cash Performs At Folsom Prison

Today marks the 49th anniversary of the recording of the live album intended to revive the then flagging career of Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison, which took place on January 13, 1968.

As the New York Times notes at the bottom of their California Today column, "Executives at Mr. Cash’s record label, Columbia Records, saw him as so unreliable that they kept the planning of the Folsom show a secret from the press," and this was because Cash had been struggling with an amphetamine habit since the 1950s, which had also all but destroyed his career. But from his opening number, "Folsom Prison Blues," written in 1955, Cash proved he had still had all the same pathos and star power that made him famous over a decade earlier, and that this crowd of inmates was as ideal an audience as any.

Robert Hilburn, author of Johnny Cash: The Life, attended the show after hearing about it from a DJ friend, says Cash "was incredible. It was like he sensed this was a moment."

Cash would later become an advocate for the rights of prisoners, but only after the huge success of At Folsom Prison, and the follow-up album, At San Quentin.

Fun fact: The Folsom album was actually recorded over two performances, in the morning and afternoon of that same day, to ensure a good recording.

Arts & Entertainment


Johnny Cash’s ‘At Folsom Prison’ at 50: An Oral History

Johnny Cash's 1968 visit to Folsom Prison yielded one of country music's most celebrated live albums.

Verite Production/Wjrz Radio/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Five decades after Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison album was recorded, it remains as mythical as ever. The concert and its star bore into the international imagination and for various reasons never left it. Dressed in his trademark black on January 13th, 1968, he paradoxically celebrated prison and outlaw life while creating a damning portrait of the prison experience that pricked the era’s concern for society’s outcasts. It was also the first live recording of a prison performance, and it crystalized Cash’s dark image. And then it thrust into the public spotlight chiseled inmate Glen Sherley, who embodied Cash’s belief that compassion for prisoners could lead to redemption for us all.

The stories around the Folsom album &ndash released 50 years ago this May &ndash spiraled up like a dust devil, taking with it fevered speculation about Cash’s run-ins with the law and other half-truths and shady legends. Hollywood’s 2005 Walk the Line biopic portrayed the concert as something it was not, although it did get one thing right: On a very basic level, Folsom marked a personal and professional renaissance for Cash.

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To bring it all down to earth, Rolling Stone has combined never-before-published interviews with three witnesses to the Folsom Prison shows: Marshall Grant, an original member of Cash’s Tennessee Two who played bass and held together his boss’s manic touring troupe from 1954 to 1980 drummer W.S. “Fluke” Holland, formerly with rockabilly legend Carl Perkins, who joined Cash in 1960 and remained with him until Cash’s last tour in the 1990s and Jim Marshall, the king of rock & roll photographers who famously shot virtually every pop music star during his lifetime but counted himself most lucky to be with his camera at Folsom Prison. Marshall and Grant died in 2010 and 2011, respectively, while Holland lives today in Jackson, Tennessee, and fronts a band that honors the country music legend’s memory.

The three men re-trace Cash’s steps into California’s Folsom Prison on a chilly, gray day and resurrect his and June Carter’s unbridled performances for the men who seemed to count Cash as one of their own. Grant and Holland harken back to the power of Cash’s performance of Glen Sherley’s song “Greystone Chapel” and then its tragic aftermath. And who knew the Man in Black’s entourage carried through the prison gates both a concealed weapon and pellets of hash until Grant and Marshall revealed it for the first time in these interviews?

More surprising, perhaps, is that the Folsom concerts (Cash did two that day) was more than an act of compassion for the inmates, but also a ploy to coax from Cash another album when his drug use had stymied his record production. What further secrets does the Folsom story hold? The years to come may tell.

Marshall Grant: This was a way to get something out of him to release, because we couldn’t get him in the studio. And when we got him in the studio, he’d come completely unprepared. He came in and would start writing songs. You can’t do that because every part of our career proves, especially with us and with him, you had to get the songs, work it up, have it ready to go. Well, we couldn’t get him to do that. So it came up through conversation, “Let’s do an album at Folsom Prison.”

Fluke Holland: I mean we’re going to Folsom, and we’re doing a show there to entertain the prisoners because they can’t get out to be entertained. It was like we just were doing a nice gesture. And I remember saying, as far as making money, this show, if you’re going to tape it and sell it, it won’t sell enough to pay for tape. I remember saying that two or three times. In fact, I remember saying it to Bob Johnston, who produced the thing. And it turned out to be one of the biggest things at that time that Johnny Cash ever did.

Jim Marshall: I don’t think any of us knew how important it would be. I photographed the last Beatles concert in 1966. It was 10,000 seats short of sold out because no one knew it would be the last concert the Beatles ever did. But I was fortunate to be at both those places. I think Folsom gained in importance over the years because of the rawness of it and the energy. And it’s amazing the energy on that record. But I didn’t know at the time how important it would be.

MG: John had a real feeling for the down and out, for the prisoners. For anybody like that. He came from very humble beginnings in Arkansas. So even though he acquired a lot of things in life, he still felt for these people and he made it very obvious, too. He was so real with it. And that’s what brought him to prisons. And a lot of them turned their lives around because of our willingness to go entertain them that told them that we cared.

JM: I think John believed he was just making the public more aware of the conditions in the prisons. As a spokesman when he did the show, I don’t think he saw himself as that. I think he saw himself as an entertainer who could make a difference in their lives even for an hour.

MG: When we got to Folsom, it was so quiet and so desolate and you could only see a few prisoners around. Jim Marshall took pictures of John and June on the bus and of them getting off of the bus and we were all in there and it was a rolling jail cell. And so even from the time we left the little motel, which was two or three miles away, it was a very somber atmosphere for everybody. It was hard to explain. There was just no joy here.

The atmosphere in there is unlike any place you’ve ever been in your entire life. Whatever you saw outside is exactly the opposite of what you see in here. And everybody is controlled. Everybody is watched, including us. We were prisoners in these prisons. So that sort of made it uncomfortable. It didn’t mean that the prison guards weren’t nice about it, but they had rules and regulations that we had to abide by, and we weren’t going to break those rules.

JM: We just got off the bus. And these granite walls are like 18 feet high, and we

got off the bus inside the second set of giant gates, and they clanked shut and John goes, “Jim, that sound has a feeling of permanence about it.” You know, I’m thinking, “Oh, goddamn.” Because only a year before, I was arrested for shooting somebody. I could have been in there. In fact, I was on probation when we went to Folsom.

MG: I carried this gun into Folsom, which was a real gun that we used as part of a gag on stage. You pulled the trigger and it would smoke. It was loud, and it was so funny that people just absolutely loved it on the show. Well, I carried it in my bass case. I didn’t think anything about it. But when I went to get my bass out and I saw the gun in the bass case, I said, “Oh my God, I’m in Folsom Prison with a gun! I probably will spend the rest of my life here.” So I very quietly went over to a security guard who was stationed on the stage and I explained to him exactly what it was all about, and I said, “I don’t want no problems.” He said, “Well, don’t worry about it. I will get a couple of security guards to go with me and we’ll take it and explain it to the warden and we’ll lock it up until you get ready to go.&rdquo

JM: I had a couple of little balls of hash in my camera bag that I’d forgot about, and they didn’t find it, obviously. But can you imagine going into a prison with some drugs on you? God! I had Levi’s jeans on, and they said, “You can’t come in with Levi’s because [you&rsquoll blend in with] the prisoners in their blue jeans.&rdquo They had to get a pair of khakis for me.

THE SHOW

FH:
I remember so well, that was the days when we didn’t have monitors on the stage and we couldn’t hear what was going on. All they had was this house system. And when got through with the song and went to the next song that John would start to do, we had no idea what it was going to be. So he’d start singing the song, and we couldn’t hear. We’d just start playing something. We didn’t know if we was doing the right thing or whatever, but everything worked out really good.

MG: Carl Perkins was on the show, the Statler Brothers was on it and so was June &ndash not the Carter Family because we felt it wasn’t the place to take the entire family. But John wanted June, and we felt that we could look out after her ourselves, along with the prison guards. One female is easy to look out after where four or five women could have been a problem, and that’s the reason the Carters weren’t on it.

So [emcee and L.A. disc jockey] Hugh Cherry goes out on the stage and he introduces Carl, he introduces the Statlers, and then he goes out and he explains to the audience what he wants them to do. He said, “Johnny Cash is getting ready to come out and when he come out don’t say nothing. Don’t clap, don’t stand up, just act like he’s not there. He will come up to the microphone and he will say, ‘Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.’ And I want you to blow the roof off of this building.” He said, “Whatever noise you ever made, let it be multiplied tenfold right here because you’re going to be recorded.” That was a huge idea. It wasn’t mine. It wasn’t John’s. Damn sure it wasn’t Bob Johnston’s. But did it ever work! That crowd had a lot to do with the success of that album.

When [guitarist] Luther Perkins kicked off “Folsom Prison Blues” &hellip. of course, they’d heard “Folsom” before and they knew Luther was going to kick it off. But when he started doing it loud and clear everybody turns toward Luther. We all did on the stage and so did they, and they thought that he was the greatest thing that ever picked up a guitar, which in my opinion, he was. But he knocked those people for a loop and that just added flame to the fire from the introduction. Then after the first guitar break, Luther did two breaks on it, John had them in the palm of his hand. He could do no wrong.

JM: If Johnny would have said, “Come on, let’s crash out of here right now,” they would have done it. They’d have followed him. He had that presence.

MG: When June come out they gave her a rousing round of applause. I was worried about what they might holler up, but nobody said anything. It just went real well. They did “Jackson,” and they did another song or two and the prisoners just absolutely loved it. She was a great asset on that show. At this period in John’s life he wanted her in his presence at all times. It didn’t make no difference. But I think he just wanted to make sure that she was along because he felt that with her along that he was going to handle his life all right.

JM: June was from the Carter family, the founders of modern country music, so she brought the hardcore country fans, the traditionalists, to John. I’m maybe just throwing my own feeling in, but a lot of people accepted John because he was with June, the die-hard country fans in the audience.

GLEN SHERLEY AND “GREYSTONE CHAPEL”

MG:
Floyd Gressett [a minister friend of Cash’s] served inmates at Folsom Prison. And he got acquainted with a prisoner called Glen Sherley, and Glen had written some songs. And he knew that Floyd knew John. This was before the show was ever scheduled, or we were in the process of scheduling it. And he asked Rev. Gressett if he could get a song to John, because he didn’t have no idea in the world how to do it. So he sent John the song before we went over there. And John and us learned “Greystone Chapel.” Luther only played rhythm because Carl played the whole thing.

FH: “Greystone Chapel” was so powerful and it said so much of the way prison life was that John knew it was something prisoners would like. That is why I always call Johnny Cash a borderline genius. He was so smart. It was almost like he could look at the audience and tell what they would like to hear.

He just started singing it and we just started playing it. It had a good beat behind it. It just seemed like he knew what they wanted to hear and he didn’t really care if security didn’t want them to hear that.

MG: It was planned to tell Glen nothing about it, but also they sat him on the front row. So we kicked it off and John told the prisoners about this man writing this song and how he got to him through Floyd Gressett. And he said, “We’re going to do it, we’re going to record it.” And Glen just melted in his seat. We started “Greystone Chapel,” and John did a phenomenal job on it. He just felt it from his toes on up. And so after that, John proceeded to get him out of prison.

After John got him out of prison, he decided that he wanted to take him on the road with us because there was a lot of publicity out about him, what John did, and he thought it would give him a boost, a recording career or something. He sang fairly good, but he was so nervous the whole time he was with us that he couldn’t sing a word at all. He would get up there onstage and he would just shake all over. But Glen got a little hard to handle. You couldn’t get him out of bed. He went to the bar. He would fight. He loved to fight. He’d fight anybody. And I was scared of him.

FH: Glen Sherley is the only person that I’ve ever been around in my life that I had been scared of. There was something about Glen Sherley that was different to me. He was, we’ll say, a big star in prison, a big superstar. He’d been there most of his life and he knew all the ropes and he knew how to get whatever he wanted and he came out in this world of entertainment which was rough. Only the strong can survive in the entertainment world. And Glen couldn’t cope with the outside world.

MG: So I was talking to him, “Glen, when you’re here you’ve got to be prompt. You keep missing airplanes. You’ve got to get on the plane. You’ve got to follow me. I’ll hand you an itinerary of everything and all you have to do is read it and do it. It’s just that simple.” He was smoking a cigarette and sort of sitting there, and he said, “I love you like a brother. But you know what I would really like to do to you?” And I said, “Well no, Glen, I don’t.” He said, “What I would really like to do is get a butcher knife and I would like to start cutting you all to hell. I’d like to drain every drop of blood in your body out on that floor.”

So I go to John and June, and I was like, “John, it’s over. It’s just over. We can’t have him up here because he’s made it very, very clear what he wants to do to me. If he made it clear to me, he’ll do it to you, he’ll do it to everybody on this band, he’ll rape one of the girls.” And John said, “I understand what you’re saying, Marshall, I understand very clearly what you’re saying.” And he said, “Just let me handle it.” So Glen moved back to California and went to work at a farm. I reckon it was more than he could stand because one day he just pulled a gun out of his pocket and put it to his temple and put a bullet through his head.

FH: I don’t think John ever blamed his self at all for Glen’s death. And I don’t think he should have. I don’t know why he would even think about blaming his self for what happened. I think he always thought he did Glen a big favor. Probably if Glen had never come out of prison he’d probably been alive right now, or for sure lived many, many years longer than he did. Because it was easier for him in there.

MG: I think John felt &ndash he didn’t say this &ndash but I think he felt that he gave Glen a shot at life, and he did.

THE ALBUM

FH:
After that album was released and become a hit, it quadrupled the amount of people that knew about Johnny Cash. And then came the San Quentin album. I think that’s the two things that skyrocketed him to stardom. Then the thing that put the icing on the cake, as we call it, in the late Sixties and early Seventies, was when we did the weekly ABC network show [The Johnny Cash Show], and of course that just finished it up. I don’t know if that could have happened, though, if the prison shows hadn’t happened before that. That set Johnny Cash up.

JM: I think Folsom has 10 times the energy of San Quentin. San Quentin‘s great, but for me, Folsom is probably one of the great records ever made. The rawness of Folsom I think is what makes it. That’s it. Real simple. San Quentin was recorded on two eight-tracks, they had a film crew, you know, it was a big production. Folsom, they put a microphone up there. That was it. It was pretty simple. But I think the simplicity caught the moment. There were no frills. It was basic. And I think that struck a chord with people. And his words were honest. There was no complex poetry. It was just right down to it.

Sgt. Pepper’s, Are You Experienced?, Pet Sounds, Dylan&rsquos Blonde on Blonde, I think that Folsom is just as important as those records. It was only because of the intensity of John’s performance there. It was the realness, the rawness, the honesty at Folsom that made that record important.

MG: We’d done some great records, but they were so few and far between by the time we got to Folsom. A record would come out and it was popular for a little while, but you could feel it go back down. It was like a roller coaster. But when this album came out, it just turned everything in our lives around. Our careers were turned around. John was becoming what he deserved.

He grew so popular with the prison shows that he felt that he would be a good spokesman for the prison population, and he was. And he spoke out on a lot of occasions on behalf of the prisoners, because it’s just the way he felt about these down and out people. You can’t find many people more down and out than a prisoner.

JM: I think that John really believed that he was making things better for the prisoners by going and doing concerts for them. And he was making the cause of the prisoners more available to the public, because he was such a high-profile person. And I think that he really believed that he was doing a good thing. He had that aura of being one of them. Whether it was conceived or thought about or it just happened over the course of years, it happened. I don’t think he thought about it that much. But I really believe that he believed he was doing a good thing performing in prisons. And it turned out Folsom was one of the biggest-selling country records of all time.


THIS DATE IN HISTORY, Jan. 13: Johnny Cash performs at Folsom Prison

Today is Saturday, Jan. 13, the 13th day of 2018. There are 352 days left in the year.

On Jan. 13, 1968, country singer Johnny Cash performed and recorded a pair of shows at Folsom State Prison in California material from the concerts was released as an album by Columbia Records under the title "Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison," which proved a hit.

In 1733, James Oglethorpe and some 120 English colonists arrived at Charleston, South Carolina, while en route to settle in present-day Georgia.

In 1794, President George Washington approved a measure adding two stars and two stripes to the American flag, following the admission of Vermont and Kentucky to the Union. (The number of stripes was later reduced to the original 13.)

In 1864, American songwriter Stephen Foster died in poverty in a New York hospital at age 37.

In 1898, Emile Zola's famous defense of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, "J'accuse," was published in Paris.

In 1915, a magnitude-7 earthquake in Avezzano, Italy, claimed some 30,000 lives.

In 1941, a new law went into effect granting Puerto Ricans U.S. birthright citizenship. Novelist and poet James Joyce died in Zurich, Switzerland, less than a month before his 59th birthday.

In 1978, former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey died in Waverly, Minnesota, at age 66.

In 1982, an Air Florida 737 crashed into Washington, D.C.'s 14th Street Bridge and fell into the Potomac River while trying to take off during a snowstorm, killing a total of 78 people four passengers and a flight attendant survived.

In 1990, L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia became the nation's first elected black governor as he took the oath of office.

Birthdays: Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus is 57. Country singer Trace Adkins is 56. Actress Penelope Ann Miller is 54. Actor Patrick Dempsey is 52. TV producer-writer Shonda Rhimes is 48. Actor Orlando Bloom is 41.

Thought for Today: "A little too much is just enough for me." -- Jean Cocteau, French author and filmmaker (1889-1963).


THIS DATE IN HISTORY, Jan. 13: Johnny Cash performs at Folsom Prison

Today is Saturday, Jan. 13, the 13th day of 2018. There are 352 days left in the year.

On Jan. 13, 1968, country singer Johnny Cash performed and recorded a pair of shows at Folsom State Prison in California material from the concerts was released as an album by Columbia Records under the title "Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison," which proved a hit.

In 1733, James Oglethorpe and some 120 English colonists arrived at Charleston, South Carolina, while en route to settle in present-day Georgia.

In 1794, President George Washington approved a measure adding two stars and two stripes to the American flag, following the admission of Vermont and Kentucky to the Union. (The number of stripes was later reduced to the original 13.)

In 1864, American songwriter Stephen Foster died in poverty in a New York hospital at age 37.

In 1898, Emile Zola's famous defense of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, "J'accuse," was published in Paris.

In 1915, a magnitude-7 earthquake in Avezzano, Italy, claimed some 30,000 lives.

In 1941, a new law went into effect granting Puerto Ricans U.S. birthright citizenship. Novelist and poet James Joyce died in Zurich, Switzerland, less than a month before his 59th birthday.

In 1978, former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey died in Waverly, Minnesota, at age 66.

In 1982, an Air Florida 737 crashed into Washington, D.C.'s 14th Street Bridge and fell into the Potomac River while trying to take off during a snowstorm, killing a total of 78 people four passengers and a flight attendant survived.

In 1990, L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia became the nation's first elected black governor as he took the oath of office.

Birthdays: Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus is 57. Country singer Trace Adkins is 56. Actress Penelope Ann Miller is 54. Actor Patrick Dempsey is 52. TV producer-writer Shonda Rhimes is 48. Actor Orlando Bloom is 41.

Thought for Today: "A little too much is just enough for me." -- Jean Cocteau, French author and filmmaker (1889-1963).


They Rehearsed In A Hotel

Before the performance, Cash and Carter checked into the El Rancho Hotel in Sacramento, where they were joined by bandmates and the Reverend Floyd Gressett, the pastor of a church in Ventura, where Cash had sometimes attended services. Over the course of their stay, they rehearsed and Gressett, who also counselled inmates at Folsom, passed along “Greystone Chapel,” written by Glen Sherley, one of the inmates. Gressett asked Cash to mention that he had heard it, but Cash took it a step farther. Cash taught himself “Greystone Chapel” so that he could play it during the concert. Also during their stay, the California Governor, Ronald Reagan met them there and offered words of encouragement.


Johnny Cash performs at Folsom Prison - HISTORY

Folsom Prison Blues

Songfacts®:

One of his earliest songs, Cash first recorded this for Sun Records in 1956, but it was the thrilling, electric version recorded live at Folsom Prison in California on January 13, 1968 that came to define his outlaw persona. The Live From Folsom Prison album helped revitalize his career - his last Country chart-topper and Top 40 Hot 100 entry was "Understand Your Man" in 1964.

"Folsom Prison Blues" was a #1 Country hit for four weeks and generated a great deal of interest in the rebellious Johnny Cash, who made prison reform his political cause of choice and started regularly performing in jails, doing about 12 shows a year - for free - mostly in Folsom and San Quentin. Said Cash: "I don't see anything good come out of prison. You put them in like animals and tear out the souls and guts of them, and let them out worse than they went in."

Standing up for the rights of prisoners is not a popular stance, but Cash came off as a champion for the oppressed. His next hit, recorded in San Quentin Prison, was the humorous "A Boy Named Sue," which proved that he could be clever and funny (at least while singing words written by Shel Silverstein). Cash got his own national TV show in 1969 and became one of the most popular entertainers of his era. Regarding his mystique, his daughter Rosanne later said, "He was a real man with great faults, and great genius and beauty in him, but he wasn't this guy who could save you or anyone else."

This is the first song Cash performed at his show where Live From Folsom Prison was recorded. Bob Johnston, famous for his work with Bob Dylan, produced the album and arranged for the prison performance. According to Johnson, he told Cash to "just go out and say who you are" when he took the stage, so Cash opened the set with what became his catch phrase: "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash."

These are the words he used to start every episode of his TV series The Johnny Cash Show, which ran from 1969-1971.

Comments: 31

  • Angie from Houston Texas Why does Johnny randomly say "Suey" in the middle of the song
  • Lisa Jo from Bentonville Arkansas This beautiful man I love is from Arkansas. When he says Sooiiee in some of the recordings of Folsom, is it for the Arkansas Razorbacks or referring to the police?
    Serious Question, hope for the Razorbacks
    Thanks if you k ow please let me put to rest this question.
  • Jennifur Sun from Ramona Just watched the bio of the making of the Lp Live at Folsom and according to it, John didn't know he was doing anything wrong by changing the lyrics and using the same tune.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, Ny On April 23rd 1969, Johnny Cash performed "Folsom Prison Blues" on the CBS-TV program 'The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour'.
    The song was track 5 of side 2 on Johnny Cash's debut album, 'Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar', the album was the first one released by Sun Records of Memphis.
    Four tracks featured on the album made the Country singles chart "Cry Cry Cry" (#14), Folsom Prison Blues (#3), "So Doggone Lonesome" (#4), and "I Walk the Line" (#1).
    And "I Walk the Line" became his first crossover hit it reached #17 on the Billboard's Top 100 chart.
    R.I.P. Mr. Cash (1932 - 2003) and Mr. Campbell celebrated his 78th birthday yesterday on April 22nd, 2014.
    May God bless and watch over Mr. Campbell.
  • Chomper03 from Chambersburg, Pa Actually, he said that the program was being televised from England.
  • Chomper03 from Chambersburg, Pa The following are the actual words Johnny Cash said onstage while he was performing at San Quentin: Johnny - "I tell you what . This is being recorded live from .. England . " (prisoners cheering) Johnny - "They said .. They said, 'You gotta do this song , You gotta do that song .. You gotta stand like this, act like this. ' And I just don't give a damn, you know. I'm here .. I'm here to do what you wanna do, and to do what I wanna do. Is that clear. " (prisoners cheering again).
  • Christian from Berlin, Germany Johnny Cash's "signature tune" was stolen line for line from Gordon Jenkins' "Crescent City Blues". Shame on wikipedia for trying to downplay and whitewash the lawsuit over this song.
  • Megan from Stevenson, Al Super catchy! lol This song is awesome!
  • Tom from Los Angeles, Ca Pearl, Boy Named Sue was after either version of this song. And though at first blush it seems implausible if not inappropriate to refer to a boy named Sue at a men's prison, Cash did exactly that, apparently, recording Sue at San Quentin in 69
  • Tom from Los Angeles, Ca Well, if he was captured in California, he would be held in a local jail until transported back to Nevada to face trial. He would not be housed in Folsom prison, which is for sentenced felons. However, there are alternative theories. Perhaps he is doing time in Folsom for an unrelated California crime and simply reminiscing, or perhaps bragging, about a prior offense in Reno for which he was never prosecuted.
    Or perhaps he was standing on California soil at the Nevada state line and using a high powered rifle managed to shoot a man in Reno from there, thus giving California joint jurisdiction to prosecute the crime. Cash actually attended University of Tennessee law school for three weeks before being flunked out for drunkenness and cruelty, but not before developing a passion for matters of criminal jurisdiction that stayed with him throughout his life.
  • Eva from Las Vegas, Nv i totally disagree with the person that commented saying that Johnny Cash started the rap movement and putting violence in his songs. when he wrote a song usually it was from experience or how he was feeling. a majority of his songs are non violent so seriously get your facts straight before posting a comment like that on a site like this.
  • Chomper from Franjkin County, Pa According to his one autobiography , "Man In Black" , Johhny Cash onced shot a man in self defense and regretted it . So he made a vow afterwards to himself that he would would wear the color black for the rest of his life . He was arrested in Starkville , Mississippi , for picking flowers and spent one night in jail. He was also arrested in El Paso , Texas ( I think it was El Paso ) for having drugs ( the drugs were either prescription drugs or barbiturates he hid inside his guitar) .
  • Ric from Erskine, United Kingdom Little known fact. Go to YouTube and look for 'Crescent City Blues'. After watching a prison film, in the Air Force in 1954, Johnny put the structure of his song together. not realising he borrowed so heavily from the Gordon Jenkins' original. Johnny Cash paid Gordon Jenkins $100,000 for copyright infringments in 1967.
  • Pearl from Mayer, Az guy, johnny yells sooey in reference to another one of his hit befor this one called 'a boy named sue'
  • Pearl from Mayer, Az is it just me or does it seem that everybody is obsesed with johnny cash ever sence the movie about him came out. nothing personal to johnny but it is undoubtedly true
  • Steve from Boston, Ma He would end up in a California prison if he shot the man in Reno, then fled to CA, where he was captured )
  • Bob from Roseville, Co But if he shot a man in Reno,Nevada
    how did he end up in a California prison?
  • Mark from Byrdstown, Tn It's hard to say what the definite lyrics are since Cash recorded several studio and live versions of this song.The first recording of it was done inthe 50's and was a minor hit for him then in the late 1960's he recorded it live at Folsom prison and it became a bit hit and that album became probably the best live album anyone has ever recorded,certainly in country music.

"Well, if they freed me from this prison, if that railroad train was mine, I bet I'd move on over a little farther down the line"

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On This Day: Johnny Cash performed at Folsom Prison

Johnny Cash performs at Folsom Prison on November 8, 1966. Photograph from the Sacramento Union Archives, D-350.

You’ve probably heard Johnny Cash’s famous song, “Folsom Prison Blues,” and may know that Cash performed his live album, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, at the prison in January 1968. But did you know that his first concert at Folsom Prison was 50 years ago today?

On November 8, 1966 (the same day that Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California), Johnny Cash performed at Folsom Prison in front of approximately 1,800 inmates. Although Cash wrote his famous song “Folsom Prison Blues” in 1955, it wasn’t until this 1966 concert that he first stepped foot in Folsom Prison.

According to the November 9, 1966 Sacramento Bee article, “Folsom Inmates Brave Chill for ‘Friend’ Cash,” the concert also featured the four female singers, Maybelle Carter, June Carter, Helen Carter, and Anita Carter, who were known as the Carter Family. The Statler Brothers, another opening act, provided takeoffs on Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, The Ink Spots, and the McGuire Sisters.

The photographs of the concert, seen below, are from the Sacramento Union Newspaper Archives. Until it closed its doors in 1994, the Sacramento Union was the oldest daily newspaper west of the Mississippi.

Johnny Cash performs at Folsom Prison on November 8, 1966. Photograph from the Sacramento Union Archives, D-350. Johnny Cash performs with the Carter Family at Folsom Prison on November 8, 1966. Photograph from the Sacramento Union Archives, D-350

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"He identified with the prisoners because many of them had served their sentences and had been rehabilitated in some cases, but were still kept there the rest of their lives. He felt a great empathy with those people," his brother said.

Cash took his interest to prison reform directly to a U.S. Senate hearing in 1972 and stated that people needed to start caring about prison reform, BBC reported.

"At Folsom Prison" is still mentioned as one of the greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone and it cemented Cash's legacy as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.


In his later years, Merle Haggard received honors and accolades

After prison, Merle Haggard pursued a career in music, and continued writing, performing, and influencing the industry until his last days. Billboard says he scored 38 #1 hits before he was done, and is often considered a primary architect of what came to be known as the "Bakersfield Sound" genre of Country music — less polished, more gutsy, more honky-tonk, compared to the slicker iterations of country that were ruling the airwaves and the performance venues up to that time. Haggard, alongside such artists as Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and his influential friend Johnny Case, were later considered to be pioneers in the "outlaw" subgenre of country music.

In 2010, Haggard became a Kennedy Center honoree alongside Sir Paul McCartney, according to Billboard. He also won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and inductions into both the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Bob Dylan called him "herculean," according to Rolling Stone, while Willie Nelson considered him "one of the best." Not bad for an ex-con. Sadly, after a bout with double pneumonia, Haggard died on his 79th birthday, April 6, 2016.


Watch the video: Johnny Cash - San Quentin Live at San Quentin, 1969