Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in 1969. (Picture Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The most famous and iconic romance from the music industry is that of country singer-songwriter Johnny Cash and country singer-songwriter and actor June Carter. A love so intense that it worked through the highs and lows of life, including Cash's addiction to drugs and alcohol.
The duo were famous celebrities during their time, but it was in 1956 that they met backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly live country-music radio broadcast. It was Cash's debut. His song, "I Walk the Line," had been released two months earlier and had become a hit with fans of both pop and country music. They were introduced by singer and actor Elvis Presley. June had come to watch Presley perform. Both of them were married to different people at that time, but the instant attraction made it impossible for them to ignore.
Her emotions for Cash were so strong that she called it "one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through in my life." She co-wrote a song about this love she felt for Cash called "Ring Of Fire," which became a hit after Cash recorded it in 1963.
"I never talked much about how I fell in love with John," Carter Cash told Rolling Stone in 2000. "It was not a convenient time for me to fall in love with him, and it wasn’t a convenient time for him to fall in love with me. ... I was frightened of his way of life. I thought, I can’t fall in love with this man, but it’s just like a ring of fire.”
June divorced country singer Carl Smith in 1956 but later married a police officer named Edwin Nix and had a daughter with him before divorcing him in 1966.
In the meantime, Cash and June had started touring together in the early 1960s. Cash battled addiction to alcohol and drugs throughout the 1960s, a personal rough patch for him, since his marriage was crumbling, and he would miss concerts and shows. He was even arrested multiple times, and in one instance, he was sued by the federal government for starting a forest fire in Los Padres National Forest in California when his camper caught fire, resulting in the deaths of thousands of the region's endangered California condors.
Sick of this, Cash's wife, Vivian Liberto, filed for divorce, citing drug addiction and infidelity. Meanwhile, June was also dealing with addictions, a fact revealed in her son John Carter Cash's 2007 book "Anchored in Love: The Life and Legacy of June Carter Cash." However, Cash credited June with helping him overcome addiction.
Vivian and Cash's divorce was finalised in 1967, and since then, Cash had been pursuing June. She finally said "yes" to his proposal in front of 7,000 people who were attending his show in London on February 22, 1968. They married a few weeks later.
"I can’t remember anything else we talked about, except his eyes," June Carter wrote in the notes on Cash’s 2000 box set, Love, God, Murder. "Those black eyes that shone like agates… He had a command of his performance that I had never seen before. Just a guitar and a bass and a gentle kind of presence that made not only me but whole audiences become his followers.”
Together, they shared Grammy Awards in 1967 and 1970, in addition to their individual awards (2 solo Grammys for June and 11 for Cash, including a lifetime achievement award). Their only child together, John Carter Cash, was born in 1970.