The Johnny Cash Show
The Johnny Cash Show

The Johnny Cash Show is an American television music variety show hosted by Johnny Cash. The Screen Gems 58-episode series ran from June 7, 1969, to March 31, 1971, on ABC; it was taped at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The show reached No. 17 in the Nielsen ratings in 1970.[1]

Cash opened each show, invariably preceding the first number with his customary “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” greeting, and its regulars included members of his touring troupe, June Carter Cash (his wife) and the Carter Family, The Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and The Tennessee Three, with Australian-born musical director-arranger-conductor Bill Walker. The Statler Brothers performed brief comic interludes. An instrumental version of “Folsom Prison Blues” was used for the opening credits.

It featured many folk, singer-songwriter and country musicians, such as Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Merle Haggard, James Taylor and Tammy Wynette, Roy Orbison. It also featured other musicians such as jazz great Louis Armstrong, who died eight months after appearing on the show.[1]

Background

Cash had been approached by ABC to host a television show after the major success of his two live prison albums, At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin.[2] The show started with an hour-long tryout offered by ABC as “a summer replacement for its Saturday night variety extravaganza The Hollywood Palace.”[1] While Cash had a large degree of freedom, he “had to accept some compromises by hosting showbiz royalty like Bob Hope, George Gobel, Kirk Douglas, Burl Ives, Peggy Lee and Lorne Greene. They gave the show gravitas that satisfied both advertisers and the network”.[1]

Format

The show was recorded at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, then home of the Grand Ole Opry.[1] The show was conceived by Bill Carruthers, who also served as executive producer and director for the first season. Stan Jacobson was also a producer on the show. Myles Harmon was the program executive for ABC Television. The first show featured Joni Mitchell, Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw, Fannie Flagg as a comic, and Bob Dylan.

The show included a “Country Gold” segment which featured legends rarely or never seen on network TV such as Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys. Author Rich Kienzle suggests that as well as providing entertainment, the show operated as a “Country Music 101”.[1]

Cash persisted in the face of ABC “network anxieties” on several occasions. He refused to cut the word “stoned” from Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, he stood by his Christian faith “despite network anxieties”, and persisted in bringing on Pete Seeger whose anti-Vietnam War song on another network had “caused a firestorm”.[1] He premiered his “Man in Black” song on an episode taped at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University campus.

In 1970, Columbia Records released The Johnny Cash Show, a live album, as a tie-in with the TV series, though the record is not considered a soundtrack. The release is unusual as Columbia was affiliated with competing network CBS. Cash’s version of Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, included on the series, is included on the album and was released as a single, which was a major hit for Cash.

One unusual taping occurred in 1971. Cash began the program assuming it was a regular episode. Moments after Cash greeted the audience, June Carter Cash came on stage and said she had a special guest. Ralph Edwards then joined the two on stage; as the audience erupted in a standing ovation, Cash realized that it was actually a taping for an installment of This is Your Life honoring him.

Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
132June 7, 1969 (1969-06-07)May 13, 1970 (1970-05-13)ABC
226September 23, 1970 (1970-09-23)March 31, 1971 (1971-03-31)

List of episodes

Season 1 (1969–1970)

32 episodes

#AirdateGuests
1.1June 7, 1969
1.2June 14, 1969
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • Dan Blocker
  • Joey Scarbury
  • Evie Sands
  • The Carter Family
  • The Statler Brothers
1.3June 21, 1969
  • Eddie Albert
  • Jerry Reed
  • Linda Ronstadt
1.4July 5, 1969
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie
  • Doug McClure
  • The Cowsills
1.5July 12, 1969
  • Jeannie C. Riley
  • Glen Campbell
  • Joe Tex
1.6July 19, 1969
  • Ed Ames
  • Joni Mitchell
  • The Monkees
  • Roy Clark
1.7July 26, 1969
  • Dale Robertson
  • Marty Robbins
  • Lynn Kellogg
1.8August 2, 1969
  • O.C. Smith
  • Merle Haggard
  • Merrilee Rush
  • Carl Perkins
1.9August 9, 1969
  • Diana Trask
  • Pat Boone
  • Tom T. Hall
1.10August 16, 1969
  • O.C. Smith
  • Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
  • Melanie
  • Grandpa Jones
1.11August 23, 1969
  • Chet Atkins
  • Lulu
1.12August 30, 1969
  • Roger Miller
  • Odetta
  • Carl Perkins
1.13September 6, 1969
  • Charley Pride
  • Ian & Sylvia
1.14September 20, 1969
  • Cass Elliot
  • Ramblin’ Jack Elliot
  • The Staple Singers
  • Tommy Cash
1.15September 27, 1969
  • Roy Orbison
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Phil Harris
  • Bobbi Martin
1.16January 21, 1970
  • Arlo Guthrie
  • Jose Feliciano
  • Bobbie Gentry
1.17January 28, 1970
  • Glen Campbell
  • Marty Robbins
  • Nancy Ames
1.18February 4, 1970
  • Dusty Springfield
  • Rod McKuen
  • Kirk Douglas
1.19February 11, 1970
1.20February 18, 1970
  • Vikki Carr
  • Pete Seeger
1.21February 25, 1970
  • Cass Elliot
  • Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
1.22March 4, 1970
  • Brenda Lee
  • Roger Miller
  • Carl Perkins
  • Pete Seeger
1.23March 11, 1970
  • O.C. Smith
  • Hank Williams Jr.
  • Linda Ronstadt
1.24March 18, 1970
  • George Gobel
  • Merle Haggard
  • Jeannie C. Riley
1.25March 25, 1970
  • Waylon Jennings
  • Jackie DeShannon
  • Michael Parks
  • Statler Brothers
  • Carl Perkins
1.26April 1, 1970
  • Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
  • Roy Orbison
1.27April 8, 1970
  • Patti Page
  • Tony White
1.28April 15, 1970
  • George Jones
  • Bobby Goldsboro
  • Judy Collins
1.29April 22, 1970
  • Lynn Anderson
  • Burl Ives
1.30April 29, 1970
  • Chet Atkins
  • Kris Kristofferson
  • Ricky Nelson
  • Loretta Lynn
  • Doug Kershaw
1.31May 6, 1970
  • Merle Haggard
  • Brenda Lee
  • Charley Pride
1.32May 13, 1970
  • Tex Ritter
  • Roy Acuff
  • Marty Robbins
  • Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass

Season 2 (1970–1971)

26 episodes

#AirdateGuests
2.1September 30, 1970
2.2September 23, 1970
  • Jackie DeShannon
  • Dennis Hopper
  • Statler Brothers
2.3October 7, 1970
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Joe South
  • George Lindsey
2.4October 14, 1970
  • José Feliciano
  • Bobby Bare
  • Linda Ronstadt
  • Mac Davis
2.5October 21, 1970
  • Peggy Lee
  • The Guess Who
  • Marty Robbins
  • Tommy Cash
2.6October 28, 1970
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford
  • Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
2.7November 4, 1970
  • Burl Ives
  • Statler Brothers
2.8November 11, 1970
2.9November 18, 1970
  • Kris Kristofferson
  • Cass Elliot
  • Statler Brothers
  • Lorne Greene
2.10November 25, 1970
  • Glen Campbell
  • Stoneman Family
  • Tony Joe White
2.11December 2, 1970
  • Homer & Jethro
  • Statler Brothers
  • Merle Haggard
  • Bonnie Owens
  • Anne Murray
2.12December 16, 1970
  • Jackie DeShannon
  • Hank Snow
  • Carl Perkins
  • Al Hirt
2.13December 25, 1970

“The Johnny Cash Christmas Show”

  • Statler Brothers
  • Everly Brothers
  • Roy Orbison
2.14January 6, 1971
  • Derek and the Dominos
  • Eric Andersen
2.15January 13, 1971
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • Bill Anderson
  • Statler Brothers
  • Homer & Jethro
2.16January 21, 1971

“The History of Country Music: Part 1”

  • Roy Acuff
  • Eddy Arnold
  • Carl Perkins
  • Marty Robbins
  • Buck Owens
  • Merle Haggard
2.17January 28, 1971

“The History of Country Music: Part 2”

  • Chet Atkins
  • Merle Haggard
  • Sonny James
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • Webb Pierce
  • Takahiro Saito
  • B.J. Thomas
  • Kitty Wells
  • Tammy Wynette
  • Minnie Pearl
  • Faron Young
  • Carl Perkins
2.18February 3, 1971
2.19February 10, 1971

“Captain Campbell’s Medicine Show”

2.20February 17, 1971
  • James Taylor
  • Linda Ronstadt
  • Neil Young
  • The Dillards
  • Tony Joe White
2.21February 24, 1971
  • Mahalia Jackson
  • Edwin Hawkins
  • Staple Singers
  • Blackwood Brothers
  • The Oak Ridge Boys
2.22March 3, 1971

“Circus for Children Of All Ages”

2.23March 10, 1971
  • Statler Brothers
2.24March 17, 1971
  • Statler Brothers
2.25March 24, 1971
2.26March 31, 1971
  • Merle Travis

Cancellation

The show was canceled in 1971 in response to the Prime Time Access Rule, which eliminated a half-hour of network prime time programming from all of the major networks’ nightly schedules. Cash’s show was one of many that had strong rural followings that were canceled across the networks in what came to be known as the “rural purge.”

Revival

In 1976, CBS ran a revival of the show, Johnny Cash and Friends, as a replacement series for four weeks from August 29 to September 20, 1976.[3] The new show was taped at the newly constructed Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.[4] Aside from musical performances, this series also featured a greater emphasis on comedy, with Steve Martin and Jim Varney appearing as regulars, and with June Carter Cash performing several comedy routines as “Aunt Polly” (reviving a character she had performed early in her career).

Following Johnny Cash and Friends, an annual Johnny Cash Christmas Special series was launched, starting in 1976, with specials airing almost every year until 1985.

The Best of The Johnny Cash TV Show

A DVD set featuring 66 live performances from the show, called The Best of The Johnny Cash TV Show, was released in Region 1 on September 18, 2007. The DVD set was hosted by Kris Kristofferson and directed by Michael B. Borofsky, and was produced by Reverse Angle Productions for Sony Pictures Entertainment and Legacy Recordings, Sony Music Entertainment’s catalog division. An accompanying CD, featuring selected numbers from the show (some of them not on the DVD set), was also released.

DVD track list

DVD 1

  1. Johnny Cash – Ring Of Fire
  2. Bob Dylan – I Threw It All Away
    • From Season 1, Episode 1, originally aired June 7, 1969.
  3. Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash – Girl From The North Country
    • From Season 1, Episode 1, originally aired June 7, 1969.
  4. Kris Kristofferson – Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)
  5. Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash – Blue Yodel No. 9
    • From Season 2, Episode 6, originally aired October 28, 1970.
  6. Stevie Wonder – Heaven Help Us All
    • From Season 2, Episode 8, originally aired November 11, 1970.
  7. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising
    • From Season 1, Episode 15, originally aired September 27, 1969.
  8. Linda Ronstadt and Johnny Cash – I Never Will Marry
  9. George Jones – Medley (White Lightning with Johnny Cash, She Thinks I Still Care, Love Bug, The Race Is On)
  10. Johnny Cash – Hey Porter
  11. Waylon Jennings – Medley (Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line, The Singing Star’s Queen, Brown Eyed Handsome Man)
  12. Tammy Wynette – Stand By Your Man
    • From Season 2, Episode 17, originally aired January 28, 1971.
  13. Marty Robbins – Medley (Big Iron, Running Gun, El Paso)
    • From Season 1, Episode 17, originally aired January 28, 1970.
  14. Johnny Cash – Come Along And Ride This Train
  15. Johnny Cash – As Long As The Grass Shall Grow
  16. Johnny Cash – Man in Black
  17. James Taylor – Sweet Baby James
    • From Season 2, Episode 20, originally aired February 17, 1971.
  18. Pete Seeger and Johnny Cash – Cripple Creek
  19. Pete Seeger and Johnny Cash – Worried Man Blues
  20. Johnny Cash – Sunday Morning Coming Down
  21. Johnny Cash – Old Time Religion
  22. Johnny Cash, The Carter Family, The Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins and The Tennessee Three – Daddy Sang Bass
  23. Mother Maybelle and The Carter Sisters – Wildwood Flower
  24. Neil Young – The Needle and the Damage Done
    • From Season 2, Episode 20, originally aired February 17, 1971.
  25. Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Three – Tennessee Flat Top Box
  26. Joni Mitchell and Johnny Cash – The Long Black Veil
    • From Season 1, Episode 6, originally aired July 19, 1969.
  27. Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Three with Carl Perkins – Big River

DVD 2

  1. Johnny Cash – I Walk The Line
  2. June Carter Cash – A Good Man
  3. Derek and the Dominos – It’s Too Late
    • From Season 2, Episode 14, originally aired January 6, 1971.
  4. Derek and the Dominos with Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins – Matchbox
  5. Charley Pride – Able Bodied Man
  6. Chorus & Johnny Cash – Country Gold Intro
  7. Bill Monroe And His Blue Grass Boys – Blue Moon Of Kentucky
    • From Season 2, Episode 8, originally aired November 11, 1970.
  8. Loretta Lynn – I Know How
    • From Season 1, Episode 30, originally aired April 29, 1970.
  9. Jerry Lee Lewis – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
  10. Johnny Cash – Ride This Train
  11. Johnny Cash – America The Beautiful
  12. Johnny Cash – This Land Is Your Land
  13. The Everly Brothers with Ike Everly and Johnny and Tommy Cash – That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine
  14. Ray Charles – Ring Of Fire
  15. Johnny Cash – A Boy Named Sue
  16. Conway Twitty – Hello Darlin’
  17. Mother Maybelle Carter – Black Mountain Rag
  18. Tony Joe White and Johnny Cash – Polk Salad Annie
  19. Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman
    • From Season 2, Episode 10, originally aired November 25, 1970.
  20. Neil Diamond – Cracklin’ Rosie
  21. Ray Price – For The Good Times
  22. Roy Orbison – Cryin’
    • From Season 1, Episode 15, originally aired September 27, 1969.
  23. Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash – Pretty Woman
    • From Season 1, Episode 15, originally aired September 27, 1969.
  24. Johnny Cash – Wanted Man
  25. Chet Atkins and Johnny Cash – Recuerdo De La Alhambra
  26. Chet Atkins – Medley (Back Home in Indiana, Country Gentleman, Mister Sandman, Wildwood Flower, Freight Train)
    • From Season 1, Episode 30, originally aired April 29, 1970.
  27. June Carter Cash with Homer And Jethro – Baby, It’s Cold Outside
  28. Merle Haggard – No Hard Times
  29. Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash – Sing Me Back Home
  30. Carl Perkins – Blue Suede Shoes
    • From Season 2, Episode 16, originally aired January 21, 1971.
  31. Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, The Carter Family and The Statler Brothers – The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago
  32. Roy Clark – Medley (In The Summertime, 12th Street Rag)
    • From Season 1, Episode 6, originally aired July 19, 1969.
  33. The Statler Brothers – Flowers on the Wall
  34. Johnny Cash – Working Man Blues
  35. Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash – Jackson
  36. Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash – Turn Around
  37. Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash – I Love You Because
  38. Hank Williams Jr. – Medley (You Win Again, Cold Cold Heart, I Can’t Help It If I’m Still in Love With You, Half As Much)
  39. Johnny Cash – A Wonderful Time Up There

CD track list

  1. Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line
  2. Johnny Cash – Flesh and Blood
  3. Tammy Wynette – Stand by Your Man
  4. George Jones – She Thinks I Still Care / Love Bug / The Race Is On
  5. Johnny Cash – I’ve Been Everywhere
  6. Bobby Bare – Detroit City
  7. Ray Charles – Ring of Fire
  8. Derek and the Dominoes – It’s Too Late
  9. Kris Kristofferson – Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)
  10. Roy Orbison – Only the Lonely / Oh, Pretty Woman
  11. Johnny Cash with The Carter Family and The Statler Brothers – Belshazzar
  12. Waylon Jennings – Brown Eyed Handsome Man
  13. Johnny Cash and Joni Mitchell – Girl From the North Country
  14. James Taylor – Fire and Rain
  15. Johnny Cash, The Carter Family, The Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins and The Tennessee Three – Daddy Sang Bass
  16. Johnny Cash – Closing Monologue – I Walk the Line (reprise)

  • The Johnny Cash Show at IMDb
  • On TV.com

Notes


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