JOHNNY CASH–“DON’T TAKE YOUR GUNS TO TOWN”–“RING OF FIRE”

Hello,  Johnny Cash had been making hit records for over two years when he left Sun Records in 1958 to begin a long career with Columbia Records.  Johnny had been the biggest hit maker at Sun Records, charting more big hits for the label than Carl Perkins or Elvis Presley.  Johnny had been wanting more artistic freedom of his recordings than Sun Records was giving him.  Sun was also promoting their new star Jerry Lee Lewis.  Johnny left Sun Records and began the next phase of his legendary career, one that would eventually see him being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

Johnny’s first Billboard Hot 100 on Columbia Records made its debut on October 6, 1958,  ALL OVER AGAIN became a Top 40 pop hit, charting at #38 and remaining on the Hot 100 for 11 weeks.  On October 20, 1958 the “B” side of the record,  WHAT DO I CARE became a Hot 100 hit also, charting at #52.  Johnny Cash had a double-sided hit right out of the gate, it was just the beginning of the long line of hits to follow.

His second Columbia pop hit entered the Billboard Hot 100 on January 19, 1959.  This one is a classic Johnny Cash hit,  DON’T TAKE YOUR GUNS TO TOWN.  The single became his fifth #1 hit record on the country charts.  Johnny’s hit held the #1 spot for 6 weeks on the country chart and peaked at #32 on the Hot 100, remaining on the pop chart for 12 weeks.  The “B” side is another song that became classic Johnny Cash, his country favorite  I STILL MISS SOMEONE.

He would continue charting hit after hit on both the country and pop charts, some of those hits included:  I GOT STRIPES,  FIVE FEET HIGH AND RISING,  THE REBEL-JOHNNY YUMA and  TENNESSEE FLAT-TOP BOX, to name just a few.

On June 1, 1963 one of his all-time great recordings made its Billboard Hot 100 debut.  This classic hit was written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore and was originally recorded by June’s sister Anita Carter.  Johnny recorded  RING OF FIRE on March 25, 1963 and it became the biggest hit of his career, staying at #1 on the country chart for 7 weeks and charting at #12 on the Hot 100.  The single,  RING OF FIRE received a Grammy: Hall of Fame award.

The song was written by June about falling in love with Johnny at the time.  It was during the time when he was fighting his drug problem and alcoholism, that she began writing the song.  Merle Kilgore worked with her on the words to the song.  When Anita Carter’s version failed to become a major hit, Johnny Cash recorded it.  He added the mariachi-style horns which added to the huge success of his latest million-seller.  This sound was used again on Johnny’s 1964 hit,  IT AIN’T ME, BABE.

Four years after the song was released, June and Johnny were married (1968) and remained married till her passing in 2003, at the age of 73.  Johnny Cash died just four months later in September of 2003 at the age of 71.  In his recording career, “The Man In Black” charted 139 Country hits (1955-2003) and many top-selling albums.  He charted 59 Billboard pop hits between 1956 and 1976.  Johnny Cash the legend, an American artist know throughout the world and one of the greatest singer/songwriters in the “Golden Era Of Rock And Roll”.  He was loved by both the young and the not so young…his music lives on…his gift to us all.

Till the next time—Joe

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