The Johnny Cash Show

Johnny Cash was riding a new wave of popularity in 1969, thanks to the crossover success of his 1968 album Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. When ABC approached him about hosting a weekly TV variety show, Cash felt he had the leverage to make a couple of simple requests: he would choose the musical guests himself, and the show would be shot in Nashville, at the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry.

The Johnny Cash Show quickly achieved notoriety for the quality and scope of its musical offerings. These included country legends such as Mother Maybelle Carter and Bill Monroe, and country legends in the making, including Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, and Charley Pride. 

In addition, Cash’s show was a pipeline for bringing cutting-edge folk, pop, and rock artists to Nashville. Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell were guests on the first show, June 7, 1969. Later guests included Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton’s Derek & the Dominos. Some of these artists stayed around to work with the city’s ace session players in the relaxed atmosphere of local recording studios. 

At a time when the nation was divided over issues such as the Vietnam War, Cash’s inclusive approach to the music on his show created a bridge between audiences. After fifty-eight episodes, the groundbreaking show.

Learn more about Country Music Hall of Fame member Johnny Cash.