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Physically spent and struggling, he performed classic hits for the ultimate time

“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash,” would always mark the beginning of performances by the iconic Johnny Cash, and his final public appearance followed suit. Reflecting on the footage of that closing show, it’s crucial to grasp the circumstances surrounding it. On July 5, 2003, despite battling significant health issues, Cash graced the stage for the last time. At that point, he was facing the challenges of life in a wheelchair, grappling with facial paralysis, and deeply mourning. In 1997, he had received a diagnosis of Shy–Drager syndrome, later determined to be autonomic neuropathy linked to diabetes. Despite deteriorating health and lungs weakened by pneumonia, Cash persisted in collaborating with producer Rick Rubin, putting out acclaimed albums under Rubin’s American Recordings label. His dear wife, June Carter Cash, had passed away on May 15, 2003, merely two months before his ultimate performance.

Johnny Cash’s farewell show unfolded at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, near Clinch Mountain. This venue held particular significance for Cash, paying homage to his wife June Carter Cash’s lineage. June, daughter of Maybelle Carter from The Carter Family, renowned pioneers of country music, had been ingrained in this musical heritage since her early years.

The Carter Family Fold acts as both a museum and a concert hall, situated on the original estate of the Carter family. Following the discontinuation of recordings by the original Carter Family in 1943, Maybelle and her daughters carried on as The Carter Sisters & Mother Maybelle, later joining The Grand Ole Opry in 1950, where June would cross paths with Johnny Cash.

Recalling the best moments shared by Johnny and June:

“Jackson,” a song penned by Billy Edd Wheeler and Jerry Leiber in 1963, became renowned for the rendition by Johnny Cash and June Carter in 1967, culminating in their marriage on March 1, 1968. The track soared to No. 2 on the US Country charts and clinched a Grammy in 1968 for Best Country & Western Performance Duet, Trio, or Group.

Johnny Cash’s final appearance at the Carter Family Fold, despite grappling with laryngitis, stood as a testament to his unwavering spirit, immense musical contributions, and enduring love for June Carter Cash. Though plagued by illness, his performance underscored his resolute dedication and lasting legacy.

A poignant moment in the initial scenes showed John Carter Cash, the son of Johnny and June. Assisting his father, John Carter Cash, who is also a musician and producer, shared a touching bond with the legendary couple. Johnny Cash bid farewell on September 12, 2003, just four months after June. Let’s pay tribute to him with another song from the Man in Black.

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