5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Johnny Cash

On September 12, 2003, country musician Johnny Cash died at age 71 after a long career of entertaining country music fans around the world. Here are 5 little-known facts you didn't know about "The Man in Black"...  

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He Was Once Hospitalized By An Ostrich. By the time Johnny Cash was in his fifties he’d had a lot of success – enough to own a private ranch in Henderson, Tennessee in which he kept, amongst other things, ostriches. One day, a male ostrich kicked him in the chest, leaving him in intensive care with 5 broken ribs and internal bleeding. The hospitalization reportedly led to his addiction to morphine.

The Origins of “Walk The Line” Come From Playing Bavarian Guitar Music Backwards In an interview with Larry King, Cash explained that the prominent shuffling sound that runs throughout “Walk The Line” was inspired by the sound of a tape playing backwards. Even more amusingly, it was actually a tape of Bavarian guitar music. 

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His Cousin Was President Jimmy Carter Johnny Cash became a cousin by marriage to future President Jimmy Carter, who himself was a distant cousin of June Carter. When they met they became friends and remained so throughout their lives. Jimmy Carter wasn’t Cash’s only Presidential acquaintance though – he was a buddy of George Bush Sr., andBill Clinton.

The U.S. Government Sued Him Cash was the first person to ever be sued by the U.S. for starting a forest fire. It happened when one of the wheel bearings on his truck overheated and started a huge forest fire in Los Padres National Forest. Having 508 acres burn down because of your truck was bad enough, but the forest that burned happened to be home to 53 California condors. Forty-nine of the endangered birds died in the blaze, and Cash had to pay $82,001 to the federal government for the damage. 

Cash Translated Morse Code Sent in Russian Cash entered the Air Force at age 18 and was sent to Landsberg, West Germany, for three years, where he learned to decipher Morse Code. His job was to listen to Soviet communications for a Security Services unit. Because he was listening on March 5, 1953, he may have been the first people outside the Soviet Union to learn of the death of Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Premier.