Thirteen years ago — on September 12, 2003 — the man in black, Johnny Cash, passed away at 71 years old.
And, man, he was devoted to his wife, June Carter Cash. They were married for 35 years before she died. A lot of people reading this might not even be that old. That long of a marriage leaves a lot of country music couples in the dust!
Johnny and June met in 1956 when they were both involved with the Grand Ole Opry. By the mid-60s, they started performing together as a duo. As depicted in the movie about Johnny, “I Walk The Line,” the couple’s relationship was up and down — as any real relationship should be — but they stuck it out for better or for worse.
By 1968, they fell in love with each other. Johnny proposed while he and June were performing on stage. After a few awkward moments, June said yes. They were married the same year in Kentucky.
Johnny Cash left this world just four months after his wife had died. He experienced complications from diabetes and passed away in the hospital.
But country music hasn’t forgotten him or June and probably never will.
He became a hall-of-famer three times over (Rock and Roll, Country Music, Nashville Songwriters and Memphis Music) and has won dozens of awards. He became one of the great icons of country music. Later in life, he even won over the younger crowd with his single, “Hurt,” which is a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song.
Just two months before he passed away and two months after June’s death, he played one last concert.
At his last performance, Cash couldn’t quite walk up to the microphone on his own but he didn’t want to be pushed in a wheelchair. So he got the help of two assistants and made it to center stage.
He played a 30-minute set, including two of his hit songs, “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk the Line.”
But, just as in his life, he paused the music to acknowledge his strongest love — June.
“The spirit of June Carter overshadows me tonight,” he told the crowd. “With the love she had for me and the love I have for her, we connect somewhere between here and Heaven. She came down for a short visit tonight, I guess, from Heaven, to visit with me tonight and give me courage and inspiration, like she always has.”
He then played the song that catapulted him into super-stardom, the song that June wrote: “Ring of Fire.” The song was about their love and how June was falling for Johnny.
One of the songs he played was “Understand Your Man,” which had been at the top of the charts for six weeks when it came out.
Instead of trying to tell you about Johnny’s and June’s solid relationship, let me show you. Here’s an interview they did in 1994:
To cap it all off, I’ll leave you with this love letter that Johnny wrote to June: