Sun records, Sam Phillips' famous recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee, is widely accepted as a fountainhead of rock and roll. Johnny Cash was introduced to Sam Phillips in 1954 when he auditioned some gospel music with his backups, The Tennessee Two. Phillips liked more of their "country" sound than the gospel music. In 1955 "Hey Porter" and "Cry, Cry, Cry" became Johnny's first records. He became a regular on tour with Elvis Presley. In 1956, Cash "crossed over" with his #1 "I Walk the Line" reaching #17 on the pop charts. In 1958, Cash was signed to the bigger Columbia label, much as Elvis had graduated from Sun to RCA. But Johnny Cash was mostly considered to be a "country" singer in the 1960's. His 1965 recording of "Ring of Fire" was his first top 20 recording (pop charts) for Columbia. He had a resurgence with the pop audience in 1969 when a song he had recorded for Sun back in 1956, "Folsom Prison Blues" was recorded live at a performance at Folsom Prison. His image as an "outlaw" and "the man in black" became very popular. In 1969 he had his most popular hit, the novelty tune, "A Boy Named Sue" that reached #2. Eventually Cash's rockabilliy roots with Sun were recognized and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
Top recordings from The Elvis ERA:
weeks on chart
I Walk the Line
Guess Things Happen That Way
Don't Take Your Guns To Town
Ring of Fire
This LP was purchased in the late '60's. By that time Johnny Cash's "first career" had pretty much run it's course and his "second career" was about to take off with the recording of the concert at Folsom Prison. I was probably attracted to the album because it included some early Cash songs that I remembered from the late '50's. Certainly "I Walk the Line" was already considered a classic. At the time I was more familiar with the Nancy Sinatra version of "Jackson." I remember having a 45 of a song not included on the album, "Tennessee Flat Top Box." But maybe I was mainly attracted to the album because my older sister had been a big Johnny Cash fan in the late '50's. This album was issued by Cash's later label, Columbia, but his early success had come at the renowned Sun records in Memphis. I remember owning one other Johnny Cash 45 -- "Ring of Fire." And I remember when I got the album I was surprised at the cover of the Bob Dylan song, "It Aint Me Babe" that had charted for The Turtles in 1965. But I think my favorite recording of Johnny Cash actually "Sunday Morning Coming Down," written by Kris Kristofferson with the great lyric, "The beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad so I had one more for desert."