The Man In Black’s Final Bow: Inside Johnny Cash’s Last Performance Ever


One of the greatest love stories in country music is without a doubt Johnny Cash and June Carter‘s. They met backstage at the Grand Ole Opry in 1956 while they were both married to other people.

Although both unavailable, their love was undeniable. They would eventually divorce from their spouses and after several unsuccessful proposals, she finally said she would marry Cash in 1968.

Because of their deep romantic connection, their musical chemistry was off the charts. The songs they wrote together were powerful and watching them perform together was like seeing magic unfold right in front of your eyes.

Cash and Carter Cash were married for 35 years, until her passing on May 13, 2003. Almost two months after her death, he bravely took the stage on July 15, 2003 to perform a 30-minute show in Hilton, Virginia.

Although at this point, he was using a wheelchair, Cash insisted on walking to the stage. Dressed in all black, naturally, he sat center stage with his guitar in hand.

He began the concert with his signature introduction, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” His voice was deeper and more gravelly than ever.

He first played “Folsom Prison Blues”, followed by “Sunday Morning Coming Down” for an eager 700 person audience. It was the first time he’d performed since his beloved wife passed away. 

“I don’t really know what to say about how I feel tonight, being up here without her,” he told the crowd. 

Following this statement, the crowd fell silent. You could hear the emotion in his voice and see it on his face.

Cash continued, playing a song his lovely bride wrote for him titled “Ring of Fire” and finished his performance with a song he hadn’t performed live in 25 years, “Understand Your Man”.

Cash passed away on September 12, 2003 due to complications with diabetes. It has been suggested that his health condition worsened due to a broken heart over Carter Cash’s death less than four months prior.

Enjoy The Man In Black’s final performance below. 

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