Johnny Cash hosted his musical variety show, The Johnny Cash Show on ABC from 1969 to 1971. Across 58 episodes, the "Walk the Line" singer welcomed other performers on the show which was taped at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. With an instrumental of "Folsom Prison Blues" as the opening credits, Cash would begin every episode with a signature line: "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash."
While numerous country music musicians visited the show like June Carter Cash, The Carter Family, Roy Clark, and Glen Campbell, Cash also welcomed folk and rock and roll musicians including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Merle Haggard, and Tammy Wynette. It's refreshing that Cash appreciated the country hit makers in addition to other rock and folk artists that might resonate with his audience.
The Man in Black was approached about his own show after the release of his successful live albums At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin. While there were certain personalities the network wanted Cash to feature like Bob Hope and Kirk Douglas, he loved bringing on a mix of different musicians from The Monkees and Roy Orbison to the iconic Ray Charles.
Linda Ronstadt guest starred on the show in 1969 on Episode 3 along with Eddie Albert and Jerry Reed. She and Cash performed a mesmorizing duet of "I Never Will Marry." The song was later released on Ronstadt's 1977 album, Simple Dreams.
Sadly, though the Johnny Cash TV show was really popular and consistently trending with rural audiences, it was canceled as a result of the Prime Time Access Rule. Despite the cancelation it was briefly resurrected with Johnny Cash and Friends on CBS, which led to the Johnny Cash Christmas Special series that ran annually from 1976 to 1985.
This article was originally published in September of 2019.