One of his last singles for CBS, before they dumped him in 1986 after nearly 30 years, had been ‘The Chicken In Black’ – in the video for which he appeared as a superhero fowl, dressed in cape, yellow shirt and tights. At the age of 60, all the signs were that Cash was ready for the museum. In fact, he was building one. Already an exhibit in the Country Music Hall of Fame, when he wasn’t playing small, shabby venues like Roadie’s Roadhouse, Mississauga, Ontario or Butlins Southcoast World in Bognor Regis, he was preparing to open the Cash Country theme park in Branson, Missouri.
Cut to a little under two years later. December 1993. Cash is playing the Viper Rooms on Sunset Boulevard in front of 150 of the hippest people in America. He is introduced by Johnny Depp; the audience includes Sean Penn, Juliette Lewis and assorted Red Hot Chilli Peppers. They cheer him to the rafters for the full ninety minutes. His big bass baritone gets a whole song to itself on Zooropa, the new U2 album, while he has just completed recording his landmark American Recordings, made with Midas-like hip-hop and metal producer Rick Rubin. He won a Grammy for that and a fistful more for his four other American Recordings albums. He played an unforgettable Glastonbury set in 1994 and was feted by one and all, from Nick Cave and Bono to Trent Reznor and Joe Strummer. From thereon until his death in 2003 (and beyond), Cash was the epitome of hip. Big Daddy cool.
The Resurrection Of Johnny Cash tells the story of perhaps the most remarkable turnaround in musical history. As well as acknowledging Cash’s drug, drink and religious travails in the fifties and sixties, the book digs much deeper, focusing on a lesser known but no less remarkable period of his life: the inglorious fall post-1970 and the almost biblical rebirth in his later years. Homing in on the ten-year period between 1986 and 1995, The Resurrection Of Johnny Cash tells in detail the story of Cash’s humiliating fall from grace and his unprecedented revival; his struggle with a cruel variety of illnesses; his ongoing battles with addiction; his search to find direction in his career; his eventual rebirth as both an artist and a man; and his hugely influential legacy.