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In 1992, Johnny Cash was battered and bruised. In constant pain through heart
problems, broken bones and the aftermath of a second bout of drug addiction, his
career wasn’t in much better shape than his body. One of his last singles for CBS,
before they dumped him in 1986 after nearly 30 years, had been ‘Chicken In Black’ –
in the video he appeared as a superhero fowl, dressed in cape, yellow shirt and
tights. At the age of 60, all the signs were that Cash was ready for the museum. In
fact, he was building one. Already an exhibit in the Country Music Hall of Fame,
when he wasn’t playing small, shabby venues like Roadie’s Roadhouse, Mississauga,
Ontario or Butlins Southcoast World in Bognor Regis, he was preparing to open the
Cash Country theme park in Branson, Missouri.

Cut to a little under two years later. December 1993. Cash is playing the Viper Room
on Sunset Boulevard in front of 150 of the hippest people in America. He is
introduced by Johnny Depp; the audience includes Sean Penn, Juliette Lewis and
assorted Red Hot Chili Peppers. They cheer him to the rafters for the full ninety
minutes. His big bass baritone gets a whole song to itself on Zooropa, the new U2
album, while he has just completed recording his landmark American Recordings, made
with Midas-like hip-hop and metal producer Rick Rubin. He won a Grammy for that
record and a fistful more for his five other American Recordings albums. He played
an unforgettable Glastonbury set in 1994 and was feted by one and all, from Nick
Cave and Bono to Trent Reznor and Joe Strummer. From thereon until his death in 2003
(and beyond), Cash was, once again, the epitome of hip. Big Daddy cool.

What happened?

The Resurrection Of Johnny Cash tells the story of perhaps the most remarkable
turnaround in musical history. As well as acknowledging Cash’s drug, drink and
religious travails in the fifties and sixties, the book digs much deeper, focusing
on a lesser known but no less remarkable period of his life: the inglorious fall
post-1970 and the almost biblical rebirth in his later years. Homing in on the
ten-year period between 1986 and 1995 The Resurrection Of Johnny Cash features
dozens of exclusive new interviews, including conversations with Rosanne Cash, Will
Oldham, U2’s Adam Clayton and Nick Lowe. It tells in detail the story of Cash’s
sometimes humiliating fall from grace and his unprecedented revival; his struggle
with a cruel variety of illnesses; his ongoing battles with addiction; his search to
find direction in his career; the reaffirmation of his core traits as both an artist
and a man; and his hugely influential legacy.

The Resurrection Of Johnny Cash
Hurt, Redemption And American Recordings
By Graeme Thomson

Published: April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-906002-36-7
Price: £14.95
256 pages

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