Being the younger brother of Johnny Cash undoubtedly leaves you in a pretty big shadow. (It might've been easier to be a sibling to Elvis Presley or Bob Dylan's little brother.) But Tommy Cash, the youngest sibling of the Man in Black, made his own name in the Nashville music business.
While he may not have matched the success of "Ring of Fire" or "Folsom Prison Blues," he scored a No. 4 hit on the Billboard country charts in 1969 with "Six White Horses" and went on to rack up a string of hits in the early 1970s. And while he would never be on the cover of Rolling Stone and would always live in his older brother's shadow, it didn't seem to bother him. But whatever happened to the youngest Cash?
Tommy Cash was born in Dyess, Arkansas in 1940, one of six of Johnny's siblings in the Cash family. Like his brother, Tommy was affected by the tragic death of his brother Jack Cash, who was killed in a table saw accident. Tommy was also interested in music from an early age, forming a band in high school. Following his high school graduation, he enlisted in the Army (Johnny was in the Air Force). While in the service, Cash worked as a disc jockey for the American Forces Radio Network.
Once out of the service, Cash turned his focus back to making music. He earned a record deal for the first time in 1965, but his big break came four years later with the release of "Six White Horses," a tribute to John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, which sought to find solace in the wake of the men's tragic deaths.
In 1970, Tommy Cash had two more top 10 singles: "One Song Away" and "Rise and Shine," written by Carl Perkins.
Though Tommy Cash never equaled the success of "Six White Horses," he continued to work in the music business, touring with Connie Smith and George Jones across the country, from Texas to California.
A Keeper of the Cash Legacy
The Cash brothers performed together regularly (he even appeared on The Johnny Cash Show) and Tommy continues to honor Johnny in concert.
Tommy recorded the tribute song "My Brother Johnny Cash" for his 2008 album Shades of Black.
Today, Tommy Cash is a licensed Tennessee realtor who's "selling Music City." And while a real estate agent might seem like a far cry from a burgeoning country music superstar with an iconic name that's been announced at the Grand Ole Opry, Cash continues to tour and record while managing his brother's legacy. Tommy sold Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash's Hendersonville, Tenn. compound to Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees after the superstar couple's deaths in 2003. Gibb had plans to restore the home, but much of the property was later destroyed in a 2007 fire.
"When John was in good health, he and June would go out to the gates and say hello to the fans and sometimes even get up on the tour buses out there," Tommy Cash told CMT in 2005.
Tommy Cash recently made a guest appearance on CMT's Sun Records, inspired by the famous Memphis recording studio where his brother recorded "I Walk the Line" and "Get Rhythm."
This post was originally published on April 3, 2017.