Remembering Johnny Cash: Standout Performances From ‘The Johnny Cash Show’

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Johnny Cash died 16 years ago today on September 12, 2003. Cash is one of those artists who truly embodies the word “Legend.” From his beginnings touring with other legends like Elvis to his amazing performances at Folsom and San Quentin prisons, to his activism for Native Americans and other marginalized groups, The Man In Black made a big impact in whatever he did. When he spoke in his iconic baritone, people listened.

Cash’s music and larger than life persona also transcended genre. Nowhere is that more evident than on the television show he hosted from 1969 to 1971. Although it was a brief period, the show saw performances by some of the greatest musicians of all time from across the rock, soul and country music worlds. To remember Johnny Cash, JamBase takes a look at some of the most memorable performances from The Johnny Cash Show for this edition of Throwback Thursday.

Johnny & June Carter Cash – Jackson

The incredible love story between Johnny Cash and June Carter is well documented in the film Walk The Line. But to see the electric and often humorous chemistry between the two artists in real life is something else. Below are Johnny and June doing their classic duet “Jackson.”

Jackson via John1948SevenC


Bob Dylan – I Threw It All Away

Johnny Cash was probably one of the only people in the world who could get Bob Dylan to perform in 1969. The singer-songwriter legend wasn’t playing much at the time but had just put out a country-tinged album called Nashville Skyline. For The Johnny Cash Show, Dylan performed the Skyline track “I Threw It All Away.”

I Threw It All Away via Bobminus0

Stevie Wonder – Heaven Help Us

In 1970, a 20-year-old Stevie Wonder took the stage on The Johnny Cash Show. Even just out of his teenage years, Cash introduces him as “the great Stevie Wonder.” Stevie goes on to deliver a moving version of the song “Heaven Help Us.”

Heaven Help Us via Illuminato Savio


Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising & Proud Mary

Just like The Johnny Cash Show itself, Creedence Clearwater Revival only existed for a short period of time. But also like The Johnny Cash Show, some of the most iconic music of all time came out of the John Fogerty led band. In 1969 they performed the classics “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary” on the show.

Bad Moon Rising & Proud Mary via Concert Matrix Reloaded

Waylon Jennings – Only Daddy That Walks The Line, When Waylon’s Out of Town & Brown-Eyed Handsome Man

Naturally, Johnny had on some of country music’s biggest stars and in 1969 his old roommate Waylon Jennings performed on the show. Johnny’s fellow Highwayman plays “Only Daddy That Walks The Line,” before Cash joins him on “When Waylon’s Out of Town.” Waylon then pays tribute to Chuck Berry with “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man.”

Waylon Jennings Medley via webvan94


Neil Young – Needle And The Damage Done

Neil Young appeared on The Johnny Cash Show in 1971. Cash introduces Young from outside surrounded by a group of young people. Cash acknowledges that they are the future before introducing Neil. In true Young fashion, the singer-songwriter sings a song about the loss of some of those young people with his song “Needle And The Damage Done.”

Needle And The Damage Done via BarbershopCP

Bobbie Gentry – Fancy

While many may not be familiar with Bobbie Gentry, her psychedelic southern gothic style fit right in on The Johnny Cash Show. In 1970, the Mississippi River Delta Queen performed her song “Fancy” for Johnny and his audience.

Fancy via benjichilders


James Taylor – Sweet Baby James

In 1971, James Taylor took the stage on The Johnny Cash Show. The legendary singer-songwriter performed perhaps his most well-known song, “Sweet Baby James,” a song that, like Cash himself, transcends genres.

Sweet Baby James via TransatlanticMoments

Merle Haggard & Johnny Cash – Sing Me Back Home

Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard were cut from the same cloth. Haggard sang about prison, which he actually experienced at San Quentin where Johnny would perform years later, and being lonesome like a true country star does. In 1969, Cash joined Merle for a poignant duet of “Sing Me Back Home.”

Sing Me Back Home via Ronja CCQ


Johnny Cash – Working Man Blues

Speaking of Merle Haggard, here’s Johnny Cash performing a song of Merle’s. Like Haggard, Cash was enamored with the plight of the working man. Here’s The Man In Black himself performing “Working Man Blues.”

Working Man Blues