When Johnny Cash played for prisoners

The legendary singer's concert at Falcom Prison in California was an instant hit and topped the charts as well

By Author  |  Published: 17th Jan 2020  11:00 pmUpdated: 17th Jan 2020  6:05 pm

One of the most famous prison concerts and recordings is Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison in California, a live album which was released on Columbia Records in May 1968. After his 1955 song Folsom Prison Blues, Cash had been interested in recording a performance at a prison.

Despite the little initial investment by Columbia Records, this concert was a hit in the United States, reaching number one on the country charts and the top 15 of the national album chart.

The live version of Folsom Prison Blues, was a top 40 hit, Cash’s first since 1964’s Understand Your Man. This concert received positive reviews and revitalised Cash’s career and was the most successful runs of his career.

Cash entered the gates of Folsom a fading and troubled country singer becoming the first in a series of live albums recorded at prisons. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honour of being inducted into the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.

When Johnny Cash played for prisoners


Johnny Cash, who was an American singer, songwriter, musician and actor, was also an author of the best-selling music of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide.

Cash had an inimitable voice and songs provided the soundtrack to millions of American lives. He held a special place in the hearts of his fans around the world, a master storyteller and a world-class embellishes.

He was a drug addict due to which he had an erratic behaviour — an indication of the early signs of his worsening drug addiction due to which he attempted to commit suicide while under the heavy influence of drugs.

Although he was a social activist, who secretly carried a Bible in his briefcase, he was a committed Christian who was considered to be both sinner and saint. His genre-spanning songs embraced country, rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel.

Cash died on September 12, 2003, aged 71. He was buried next to his wife who passed away a few months before him at Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Cash received multiple Country Music Association Awards, Grammys, and other awards, in categories ranging from vocal and spoken performances to album notes and videos. He also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999 and in 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him on number 31 in their ‘100 Greatest Artists of All Time’ list and No. 21 on their ‘100 Greatest Singers’ list in 2010.

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