Johnny Cash (1932-2003)
The legendary Man in Black sadly left us in September 2003, just a few months after his beloved wife June Carter had died following heart surgery.
Cash’s influence on country and popular music is incalculable; let us just say he is one of the most renowned country (and rock ‘n’ roll) icons the world has even known, and surely one of the coolest men who ever lived.
His deep bass baritone and incredible gift for storytelling and melody earned him a string of acclaimed albums and hits throughout a career stemming 5 decades. Many of his songs have since become country and rock standards (‘Ring Of Fire’, ‘I Walk The Line’ and ‘Jackson’ to name just three), and Cash’s thrilling live performances, not least his rebellious gigs at Folsom Prison and San Quentin, further helped develop his legend.
Cash died from complications relating to diabetes at the age of 71. Since his death, several Rick Rubin produced albums he recorded prior to his passing have been released as part of the American series. Furthermore, a part of his life was chronicled in the hit biopic Walking The Line starring Joaquin Phoenix as him and boasting an Oscar-winning turn from Reese Witherspoon as his soulmate June Carter.
Fittingly, Cash is buried beside his second wife, and the devout Christian’s gravestone is engraved with the words from Psalm 19:14 which read: Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
Location: 353 Johnny Cash Parkway, Hendersonville, Tennessee, USA 37075
Waylon Jennings (1937-2002)
One of the kings of the outlaw country movement and a trusted pal and collaborator of Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, Texas born Waylon Jennings is a country legend in his own right.
Jennings was a staple of the country rock scene for most of his life, before succumbing to a diabetes related complications in early 2002. He endured long-term struggles with drug and alcohol addiction throughout his colourful life.
Jennings scored a vast array of country and rock ‘n’ roll hits, and was a part of the successful ‘Outlaw country’ movement, a group of like-minded artists tearing up the increasingly staid Nashville scene which included Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.
Jennings released acclaimed records such as The Ramblin’ Man, Lonesome, On’ry And Mean and Wanted! The Outlaws (a collaboration with Nelson, Jesse Colter and Tompall Glaser), and in the mid-1980s he was a part of the successful country super-group The Highwaymen with Cash, Kristofferson and Nelson.
In 2001 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, but the eternal rebel refused to attend the ceremony in his honour. His grave is in the City of Mesa Cemetery in Mesa, Arizona, not too far away from the city of Chandler where he died.
Location: City of Mesa Cemetery, 1212 North Center Street, Mesa, Arizona, USA 85201
Widely hailed as “The King of Country Music”, the long departed Hank Williams is certainly one of the genre’s most well known and celebrated stars.
In his less than 30 years on earth the prolific Williams produced two studio albums and a remarkable number of hit singles that came to define country music and see him labeled one of the most influential American singers and songwriters of the 20th century. His songs have since been covered by many artists and his influence cited by the likes of Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones.
Born in Mount Olive, Butler County, Alabama in 1923, the young Hiram Williams moved to Montgomery to begin his music career in 1937, performing on a local radio station program. Soon after he formed the Drifting Cowboys backup band, and dropped out of school to chase musical stardom.
A few years later the hits began to follow, with’Never Again’ and ‘Honky Tonkin’ earning him a contract with MGM Records. In 1947 he released ‘Move It on Over’, and a year later, his cover of ‘Lovesick Blues’ helped get Williams entry into the Grand Ole Opry. The Williams standards ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’, ‘Hey, Good Lookin’, and ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ followed in this highly fertile period.
Sadly though, years of chronic back pain (deriving from his spina bifida occulta) and a penchant for excessive alcohol and prescription drug use began to take a major toll on his health. In 1952 he divorced his wife and long-time manager Audrey Sheppard and was booted out the Grand Ole Opry. Then between New Years Eve 1952 and New Year’s Day 1953, he passed away suddenly on the way to a concert in West Virginia aged just 29.
Williams was subsequently inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 1987. His funeral was a huge event in Montgomery and his remains were interred at the Oakwood Cemetery Annex in Montgomery. Williams now rests alongside his mother, sister and widow in the well-kept memorial site that is maintained by the nearby museum bearing his name.
Location: Oakwood Cemetery Annex,Upper Wetumpka Rd, Montgomery, Alabama, USA 36107