From his #1 hit “I Walk the Line” in 1956 to the iconic “Folsom Prison Blues,” many have known and loved Johnny Cash over the years. No love, though, seems as great as the love that singer/songwriter June Carter had for Cash during their long years together.
Both Johnny Cash and June Carter were well-known performers before meeting. Carter had been a part of her mother and sister’s music group, which eventually came to be the Carter Sisters and Mother Maybelle. She then went on to make solo music and toured with friend and star, Elvis Presley. Cash was a successful solo artist at the time.
The iconic couple met backstage at the Grand Ole Opry after an Elvis concert in 1956, according to The Boot. Presley had told Carter about Johnny Cash prior, having made her listen to his songs on a jukebox multiple times.
Despite both being married at the time of meeting, Cash was immediately smitten with Carter after introducing himself. Although June did not fall as quickly for Johnny as he did for her, the connection was undeniable. She eventually had to admit the attraction and is quoted in saying, “I think I’m falling in love with Johnny Cash, and this is the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through in my life,” as reported by Groovy History.
She then described it as being “in a ring of fire,” which inspired the writing of “Ring of Fire,” a song later appearing on both of the artists’ albums.
Cash was unashamed in the fact that he’d been absolutely infatuated with June from the beginning, and knew that although he was married, he and June Carter were meant to be together.
In the first 13 years of their relationship, Cash had attempted to make Carter his wife multiple times, and each time she denied him. Finally in 1968, Cash and Carter were engaged and soon married.
Cash asked the important question at a live show in front of 7,000 fans when Carter finally accepted. Within weeks, on March 1, 1968, the two lovers officially tied the knot. They soon had their first child together, John Carter Cash, in 1970.
As many are aware, Johnny Cash struggled with addiction for much of his life. His addiction got to the point that it was greatly intruding in his everyday life, making relationships difficult and eventually almost killing him.
Loving Johnny so strongly, June did what she could to help her husband and stood by his side through it all.
Cash continued to struggle with addiction, but he was far from ungrateful, stating, “She loves me in spite of everything, in spite of myself. She has saved my life more than once,” as she made him “forget the pain for a long time, many times.”
Not only did the famous duo find obstacles in Johnny’s addiction, but he is said to have had kept up outside affairs throughout their marriage, which was implied in a book written by their son later on after their deaths.
Cash’s infidelity led to a troubled wife. The public was well aware of Johnny Cash’s addictions, but Carter developed a problem with abusing prescription medications, which was also talked about in John Carter Cash’s book, as stated by Reuters. She was constantly paranoid that her husband was not staying faithful.
Many obstacles were placed in front of Johnny and June Carter Cash, but this only proved the love that they claimed to be unconditional and unwavering was real.
Johnny Cash and June Carter had both been married before their own marriage in 1968. Despite this, the two lived out the rest of their lives together, keeping up a both passionate and painful marriage for 35 years.
Carter passed in 2003 from surgery complications. Johnny Cash and their children were at her side. He gave a statement dedicated to his love, June Carter Cash, during his last performance just months before his own death the same year.
Before performing “Ring of Fire,” he explained that he was being overshadowed by the spirit of his late wife, and that she was there “to give [him] courage and inspiration like she always has.” Cash himself passed four months after Carter, also from health complications.
As one of the most beloved couples in the industry, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash’s love lives on through their iconic duos and many albums recorded with each other.
The passion that burned between them will always be present in their heartfelt and truthful lyrics written and performed for one another.