June Carter Cash is dead, and the sad thing is how few people realize what a huge loss that is. June Carter Cash could be considered royalty in the American music world. She was born in 1929 into probably the most important family in country music history. Her mother, Maybelle Carter (Mother Maybelle) was one of the famous Carter Family, who brought American Folk music out of the hills and into the Grand Ole Opry. June began performing with the group when she was just ten years old, using her gift for comedy along with her song-writing and musical skills. In 1950, an unknown singer in the audience at the Opry watched June Carter perform and vowed to a friend "I'm going to marry that girl someday." That singer was Johnny Cash, and he did indeed marry June over 20 years later.
June toured with Elvis Presley in the fifties after a failed marriage to singer Carl Smith. She said the tour was a way to "sort of run away from everything". She didn't however, fall under Elvis' spell as so many women did. When Presley began to make advances to June she said "I decided I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole. Lord only knows where he’d been. I think that was a big shock to his ego." She also was rumoured to have had a fling with James Dean during a stint in New York where she took acting lessons and appeared on several TV shows (she was a regular on Gunsmoke). "James Dean gave me a rose, and that’s all I’ve ever had to say about it.", June said in a later interview.
June returned to Nashville and began touring with the Johnny Cash Road Show in 1961. It didn't take long for the chemistry between Johnny and June to heat up. Both were involved with other people, however, so June wrote a song "Ring of Fire" about the pain and frustration of being in love with Johnny. Johnny Cash said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine; "We hadn't said, 'I love you.' We were afraid to say it, because we knew what was going to happen: that eventually we were both going to be divorced, and we were going to go through hell. Which we did." Finally, in 1968, Johnny proposed to June onstage during a concert in London, Ontario, she accepted, and the two were married soon after.
Johnny credits June with saving his life. At the time of their marriage he was heavily addicted to pain medication. June used her lifelong Christian faith to help Johnny kick drugs and develop his own spirituality. She continued to perform with Johnny onstage and write songs for him. She wrote "If I was a Carpenter" and "Jackson", which along with "Ring of Fire" were three of Johnny's biggest hits. June also had a successful solo career. Her 1999 album "Press On", which was largely autobiographical, earned her a Grammy. She had finished another album before her death, "Wildwood Flower", which is expected to be released around September, 2003.
June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash had seven children, several of whom have gone onto successful music careers of their own. On May 16, 2003 June Carter Cash passed away due to complications following heart surgery.