NYCountry Swag – Stories Behind the Greats: Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash

Country music is a genre that has a wide variety of singers and songwriters, and everything in between. With so much new talent in the industry, it is hard to forget the people that have made the genre what it is today. In all our interviews with artists, one thing has been consistent across the board, the influence that old-school artists have had on their musical journey. Johnny Cash is one of those artists who has transcended generations and continues to influence singers and songwriters today.

Although renowned as a platinum-selling singer-songwriter, Cash was also a military veteran. He served four years in the United States Air Force, where he worked as a Morse Code Intercept Operator, mostly intercepting Soviet Army transmissions. Interestingly enough, the singer was the first person to report on Society Union dictator, Joseph Stalin’s death.

During his time stationed in Germany, as many of us do during hard times, Cash turned to music as a way to escape. He bought his first guitar for $5 at a local pawn shop and created his first band while in the military. The band was called ‘The Landsberg Barbarians.’ He would write and record songs with a tape recorder and even played at local bars and other venues with his three-man band.

In 1954, Cash was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant, and he subsequently moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he was staying to be a radio announcer. As fate would have it, the entertainer would become a profound singer-songwriter, and arguably one of the best; despite, his initial career path.

One of Cash’s most popular and famous songs “Folsom Prison Blues” was released in 1955, but written in 1953 during his time in the service. Inspired by the motion picture Inside the Walls of Folson Prison, the record went on to win Cash a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance and a #4 slot on the charts. When the live recording was released in 1968, the song snagged the number one spot.

To learn more about Cash, his music, and his time in the service, consider visiting Nashville’s iconic Johnny Cash Museum when it re-opens. Head to for more information.



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