THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW — 10 Can’t Miss Episodes On getTV
After conquering the record charts for a decade and a half, country music legend Johnny Cash came to television in 1969 — and became a crossover superstar.
The Johnny Cash Show offered an eclectic mix of musical genres, with some of the biggest rock, folk, jazz, gospel, and country acts of the day. Cash’s humble charm shined through in his stories, songs, and breezy chats with big name stars. He also performed duets with many of his guests, including wife June Carter Cash, a star in her own right. June and Johnny had married in 1968, and their lighthearted chemistry softens Cash’s “Man In Black” gravitas.
Also featured were the Statler Brothers (Lew Dewitt, Phil Balsley, and brothers Harold Reid and Don Reid), whom Cash discovered in 1964 and used as his opening act on the road. And ever-present was “Rockabilly” legend Carl Perkins, along with Cash’s backing band The Tennessee Three (bassist Marshall Grant, lead guitarist Bob Wootton, and drummer W.S. Holland), and the Carter Family (Maybelle Carter, Sara Carter, Anita Carter and June). The large ensemble gave the show the feeling of a Grand Ole Opry revue — appropriate, since the series was recorded at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, the Opry’s home since 1943.
The Johnny Cash Show began as a summer replacement for ABC’s Hollywood Palace variety series in June of 1969. It did so well that the network gave it a regular primetime slot the following January. But, despite being the 17th highest rated show of 1970, the love affair was short-lived. The series was cancelled after two seasons as part of a cross-network “rural purge” designed to contemporize primetime for younger, more urban and suburban audiences. In the case of The Johnny Cash Show, the decision was particularly short-sighted. While Johnny hailed from rural Kingsfield, Arkansas, his outlaw persona, commitment to social causes, and impeccable musical credentials gave the show a cross-generational appeal that transcended his country roots.
Though the series ended in March of 1971, its impact did not. The Johnny Cash Show inspired a chart-topping live album of the same name from Columbia Records. And Cash, now with millions of mainstream fans thanks to national TV exposure, would tour frequently in the ensuing years. He would also return to primetime, hosting other variety shows and specials with June by his side.
The Johnny Cash Show is both a joyful time capsule and a reminder of why Cash is one of the most enduring artists in the history of recorded music. And you can revisit this essential series, or enjoy it for the first time, on getTV!
1. Season One, Episode 6 (Original airdate: July 19, 1969)
First aired on July 19, 1969, this episode featured 25-year-old Joni Mitchell singing “The Gallery” and dueting with Cash on “Long Black Veil.” Roy Clark (co-host of Hee-Haw, which had debuted a month earlier) sings and picks on “You Don’t Want My Love” and “Twelfth Street Rag.” Cash sings and plays “Last Train To Clarksville” with The Monkees and Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, and Micky Dolenz perform “Nine Times Blue” and “Everybody Loves A Nut” with the host. The show closes with Cash singing “Frankie And Johnny,” “Sing It Pretty Sue,” “Johnny Yuma,” and “Lead Me Father.”
2. Season One, Episode 15 (Original airdate: September 27, 1969)
On the final episode of the summer of 1969, Cash welcomes former Sun Records labelmate Roy Orbison, who sings “Crying” and duets with Johnny on “Pretty Woman.” Phil Harris — bandleader, comic actor, and singer of popular “novelty” songs — joins Cash for a rollicking duet of “That’s What I Like About The South.” Next, Creedence Clearwater Revival (featuring John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Doug Clifford and Stu Cook) perform mega-hits “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary” and Cash sings “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Cisco Clifton’s Filling Station,” and “You’re The One I Need.” The show closes with June joining Johnny for “Jackson” and the patriotic anthem “Battle Hymn Of The Republic” backed by the Carters and the Statlers.
3. Season One, Episode 17 (Original airdate: January 28, 1970)
Originally broadcast on February 11, 1970, this show opens with Johnny’s rousing rendition of the autobiographical anthem “Five Feet High And Rising.” Popular singer Marty Robbins performs his hits “Running Gun,” “El Paso,” and “My Woman, My Woman, My Wife.” Glen Campbell sings “Honey, Come Back” and “Sweet Country Girl” and duets with Johnny on “Tennessee Flat Top Box,” “Orange Blossom Special,” and “Don’t It Make You Want Home.” Next, Cash sings “Southwind” and duets with Anita Carter on “No One’s Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone.” The ensemble joins voices for “Daddy Sang Bass” and closes with “Peace In The Valley.”
4. Season One, Episode 19 (Original airdate: February 11, 1970)
Originally broadcast on February 11, 1970, this episode opens with Johnny’s “I Got Stripes.” Tammy Wynette sings “I’ll See Him Through” and the hit that made her a star two years earlier, “Stand By Your Man.” Johnny is joined by Neil Diamond for a medley poking fun at Neil’s Brooklyn roots and then Diamond does a barn-burning rendition of his hit “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.” Blues legend Ray Charles performs “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and “Take These Chains” and duets with Johnny on “Busted.” Johnny performs “Rock Island Line” and “Flesh And Blood,” the Statlers sing “One Song Away,” and the ensemble closes the show with “Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms.”
5. Season One, Episode 28 (Original airdate: April 15, 1970)
Originally aired on April 15, 1970, this episode opens with Cash singing “Frankie And Johnny.” George Jones and Johnny duet on “White Lighting” and Jones performs “She Thinks I Still Care” and “The Love Bug.” Johnny and Judy Collins duet on “Turn, Turn, Turn” and Judy performs “Desperate Ones” and “Sons Of.” Johnny sings “Wrinkled, Crinkled, Wadded Dollar Bill” and “Flesh And Blood” and June joins him for “Cause I Love You” and their anthem, “Jackson.” June also explains that she’s been absent from the show giving birth to their son John Carter Cash. Johnny closes the show with another anti-drug message and “What Is Truth.”
6. Season One, Episode 30 (Original airdate: April 29, 1970)
Originally broadcast on April 29, 1970, this show opens with Cash’s “Orange Blossom Special,” followed by Loretta Lynn singing “I Know Him.” Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band (featuring Randy Meisner, later a founding member of The Eagles) perform “Come On In” and “Easy To Be Free” and the former teen idol joins Cash and fiddler Doug Kershaw on “Louisiana Man.” Guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins performs a medley and Cash sings “No One Will Ever Know” and one of his earliest hits, “Hey Porter.” Cash and 33-year-old Kris Kristofferson duet on “The Prophet,” June joins Johnny for “It Ain’t Me Babe,” and Johnny closes with “I Walk The Line.”
7. Season Two, Episode 8 (Original airdate: November 11, 1970)
You may notice a slight change in tone in this November 11, 1970 episode, with greater emphasis on comedy. Comedian George Gobel guests, singing “Sky Ball Paint.” Canadian folk duo Ian and Sylvia Tyson perform a medley including “Crazy Arms.” Cash sings his 1956 single “Get Rhythm” and Stevie Wonder offers a soulful rendition of his hit “Heaven Help Us All.” Father Of Bluegrass Bill Monroe performs “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” with his band the Bluegrass Boys. Anita Carter sings “Tulsa County.” And the ensemble closes with “I Got Stripes,” “Big Midnight Special,” and “Blowin’ In The Wind.”
8. Season Two, Episode 11 (Original airdate: December 2, 1970)
Originally broadcast on December 2, 1970, this show opens with Cash singing “25 Minutes To Go” from his 1968 live album “At Folsom Prison.” Johnny and June join with Homer Haynes and Jethro Burns for “Guess Things Happen That Way.” Cash sings “Portrait of My Woman,” the Statler Brothers perform their hit “Bed Of Rose’s,” and the Carter Family joins for “Daddy Sang Bass.” 25-year-old Anne Murray offers a sweet rendition of “Snowbird” and “Sing High, Sing Low.” Singer/songwriter Merle Haggard performs “Sidewalks Of Chicago” and is joined by Cash for “Okie From Musgokee,” “Sing Me Back Home” and “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive.” Haggard’s wife Bonnie Owens joins the ensemble for “Swinging Doors” and “Mama Tried” and Carl Perkins takes the vocals on Haggard’s “I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am.” And everybody joins voices for a closing rendition of “Put Your Hand In The Hand.” If this episode doesn’t get your foot tapping, you need to check your pulse.
9. Season Two, Episode 14 (Original airdate: January 6, 1971)
Originally aired on January 6, 1971, this episode opens with Johnny singing “Big River” and “Waltzing Matilda” and the Carter Family backing Eric Andersen on “Born Again.” Next, Derek And The Dominos (featuring Eric Clapton, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, and Jim Gordon) perform “It’s Too Late” and “Matchbox” with Johnny and Carl Perkins. Connie Smith sings “Once A Day” and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott croons "Mule Skinner Blues." Cash, who struggled with addiction all his life, closes the show with a frank anti-drug message and the cautionary ballad “The Needle.”
10. Season Two, Episode 21 (Original airdate: February 24, 1971)
This gospel-centric episode opens with the ensemble joining voices for “Old-Time Religion.” Johnny sings “A Wonderful Time Up There” and Queen Of Gospel Mahalia Jackson offers a powerful rendition of “Amazing Grace.” The Blackwood Brothers sing “Old Country Church,” the Oak Ridge Boys perform “I Know,” the Statler Brothers sing “How Great Thou Art,” and they all join together for “Salvation Has Been Brought Down.” Former singing cowboy Stuart Hamblen performs “This Ole House” in the style of a tent preacher and The Staples Singers inspire with “More Than A Hammer And Nail.” Johnny sings “The Preacher Said,” the Edwin Hawkins Singers perform “My Father’s House,” and Johnny and June duet on “The Nazarene,” “Water Into Wine,” and “The Wailing Wall. The show ends with the ensemble singing “When The Saints Go Marching In,” a joyful noise sure to inspire those of any faith.
The Johnny Cash Show airs Sunday nights at 10pm ET on getTV. For more, visit the getTV schedule.