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Local History 

Johnny Cash

 "'Golden Throat' draws 5500 fans," Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, March 27, 1977, 25 A.

"Bright spotlights sliced the darkness in Hammons Center and found the hulking figure in black.  Johnny Cash assumes a stance before the mike, and he’s right where most of his fans want him.  Embracing a guitar and singing.  Saturday night 5,500 Johnny Cash, June Carter fans responded thunderously to a performance by Cash and the Carter family at the multipurpose center at Southwest Missouri State University.

"Before the show Cash paced nervously backstage.  He threw off the familiar black parsons coat that identifies him.  His black western shirt is open to mid-chest and wears a silver cross.  He is well protected by a manager who firmly deters insistent fans and members of the media.  His first song was written at age 12 he said.  It was “Where Can She Be Tonight.”

"Does he really war black to mourn the underdog?  'As the song says, I wear black and use myself as a protest of some of the injustices of our society.'  He shakes every hand that is offered and reaches for some that are not.  In the crowd are fans of all ages.  Many admit they couldn’t name another country music star they would come out to see.

"June Carter and the Carter family are on stage and June Carter is telling the cr owd 'I am home.'  They roar their approval.  'I worked here in 1949 and ’50 and KWTO, and we had this puny guitar picker Chet Atkins' she said.  She gets a laugh.  She says she passed the old home place Saturday and her yard was full of cement.  She sings to an approving crowd, 'There is a church in the valley by the wildwood in a lavender spot.

"She promises that 'Golden Throat' will be out in a minute.  Johnny Cash is a classic American phenomenon.  He came up the hard way and it shows in his face.  The face is crooked, bent with a broken smile that dazzles when it come at you full tilt.  The Johnny Cash mystique is hard to define.  Fans of mood music and jazz are Cash fans.  How did he get the deep scar that dimples his lower right cheek.  'In Germany 26 years ago when I was in the Air Force,' he offers simply.  He shifts from one foot to the other.  It is almost time to go on.  He opens the show with 'Ring of Fire' and 'Folsom Prison Blues' and Johnny Cash fans are in country music heaven."

According to the 1950 Springfield City Directory, June Carter lived at 1727 East Walnut.  In an interview with the News-Leader on April 12, 1992, June recalled, “We lived in a house on Walnut Street, almost to the end (near Glenstone).  They made a union hall out of it and put a parking lot out front.  It used to be a really nice house.”  The exposure June and her family got on KWTO led them to a coveted spot on the Grand Ole Opry.  
  
The library has numerous materials about the life and music of Johnny Cash.  For a collection of hits throughout his career see, The Legend of Johnny Cash.  His remarkable life is chronicled in Johnny Cash: the Biography by Michael Streissguth.  For a history of the Carter family and their music, seeWill You Miss Me When I'm Gone? by Mark Zwonitzer with Charles Hirshberg.  The Library also has an episode of the American Experience on DVD, The Carter Family.

The image of Johnny Cash, above, is from the newspaper.  The image of the former Carter home was taken in 2000 and is part of the Library Center's photograph collection. 


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