The year 1968 was a memorable one. We had the TET Offense, student protests all around the world and the assignations of both Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy. But 1968 was also the year the Man in Black recorded a live concert at Folsom Prison. In fact, 53 years ago today Johnny Cash was recording this now famous concert.

In the months leading up to the concert, Cash was struggling both personally and professionally. His drug use was interfering with his ability to keep his commitments. But Cash persevered and was able to get control of these addictions at least for a little while. He had wanted to put on a concert at Folsom Prison and decided to put the idea out to his record company. Soon the plans were being made.

Johnny Cash, June Carter, the Tennessee Three,  the Statler Brothers and Carl Perkins performed two concerts that day. The inmates were thrilled to have Cash there. They related to him and his music even though he never really “shot a man in Reno”.

Cash took a great interest in prison reform and performed at many prisons. He advocated for changes in the prison systems and even mentored one inmate, Glen Sherley, who wrote the song “Greystone Chapel”. The album sold 3 million copies and was one for the history books. The Man in Black was back.


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