The ITV archive recently released 10 never-before-scene photos from the legendary Johnny Cash San Quentin Prison show in 1969. The prints are currently available at Sonic Editions.
Cash’s performance at the prison was recorded for Johnny Cash At San Quentin (Live), one of the most significant country albums of all time. The recording showcased a grittier side of Cash who interacted with as a sort of comrade — something a rare few artists have every genuinely done during prison shows.
Cash gave a few prison performances during his lifetime, all of which had a significant impact. In 1958, he performed at the same San Quentin Prison to an audience that included a young Merle Haggard. Cash’s stage presence and music influenced Haggard’s direction while he was in prison.
The Hag recalled the experience of seeing Cash live in jail to Men’s Journal.
“One time we were doing a television show and he was talking about playing San Quentin in 1958, and I said, ‘You didn’t have a voice that day, Cash!’ And he turned around like, ‘How the hell would you know?’ And I said, ‘I was there.’ It blew him backwards.”