About Johnny Cash

About Johnny Cash (2)

John R. "Johnny" Cash (born J. R. Cash; February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author, who was widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century and one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide.

Although primarily remembered as a country music icon, his genre-spanning songs and sound embraced rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of multiple inductions in the Country Music, Rock and Roll and Gospel Music Halls of Fame. Cash was known for his deep, calm bass-baritone voice,the distinctive sound of his Tennessee Three backing band, a rebelliousness coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor,  free prison concerts,  and a trademark look, which earned him the nickname "The Man in Black".

He traditionally began his concerts with the simple "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash" , followed by his signature "Folsom Prison Blues".

Much of Cash's music echoed themes of sorrow, moral tribulation and redemption, especially in the later stages of his career.

His best-known songs included "I Walk the Line", "Folsom Prison Blues", "Ring of Fire", "Get Rhythm" and "Man in Black".

He also recorded humorous numbers like "One Piece at a Time" and "A Boy Named Sue"; a duet with his future wife, June Carter, called "Jackson" (followed by many further duets after their marriage); and railroad songs including "Hey, Porter", "Orange Blossom Special" and "Rock Island Line".

During the last stage of his career, Cash covered songs by several late 20th century rock artists, most notably "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails.

No stranger to displaying her own multiple personalities, Ilona Harker, aka Mae Wilde, caught up with Echonetdaily during a break in rehearsals for this enormous show. How does it feel performing the three different women in this show?

"It’s fun but a little daunting trying to represent these three very influential and strong women in Johnny Cash’s life.

Were the women very different people?

Very much so. Carrie Cash, Johnny’s mum, was a very loving mother but the depression was hard on everyone, especially women, and she had to be pretty tough as well. Vivian is usually portrayed as the woman who wanted to stop her husband from achieving his ambitions and I think this is a very backward and not accurate representation of her. She was raising four daughters with a husband who was never there. I want to show a side of her that has some fun but in the end she choose her children over her absent husband. June was a clown so I have a real affinity toward her. She was the darling of the Carter family, always hamming it up on stage, and that was what endeared her to her fans, even if at times it really annoyed her husband.

Do you have a favourite of the three?

No, because they all have their darker and lighter sides, but the show is really about the love between June and Johnny so that is what we try to highlight. Is there a sense of disloyalty to any of the three when you play any of the others? I feel very loyal to all the women in JC’s life, as you would have had to be pretty bloody strong to be able to handle the ‘Man in Black’, but when I portray Vivian I want to show her side of the story that wasn’t really honoured or acknowledged in most of the Johnny Cash stories. I feel she was a very loyal and loving partner and mother.

With three women does it mean three awesome sets of costumes?

Yes, and I love that! What is the highlight of the show for you? I am a diehard country fan and I thought I knew all of Johnny Cash’s tunes, but the version of Home of the Blues is such a beautiful rendition that I get goosebumps each time Barry sings it, and I sing a version of Long Black Veil that Mick Jagger influenced me on and that I get a big kick out of.

Ilona says she has really enjoyed working on the show and with her cast mates, and love or not so country music, you will still be entertained by the story.

‘I really have adored working with Baz, Slim and Neil. Even if you don’t like country you will love this show because ultimately it’s a love story and heck, we all need a bit of love in our lives.’