21. Johnny Cash
February 26th, 1932 (died September 12th, 2003)
Key Tracks "Ring of Fire," "I Walk the Line," "Folsom Prison Blues"
Influenced Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard, Steve Earle
Johnny cash "sounds like he's at the edge of the fire," Bob Dylan wrote in Chronicles. "Johnny's voice was so big, it made the world grow small." The Man in Black's rolling, stentorian baritone is one of the defining voices in American music, from his earliest singles for Sun Records through his commercial prime in the Sixties and Seventies to his Nineties rebirth. He approached novelty songs such as "A Boy Named Sue" and "One Piece at a Time" as seriously as he did gospel music. "I'd been hearing 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' my whole life, but when I heard Johnny sing it, it dawned on me what it was about," says his collaborator Rick Rubin. "It took on a whole new resonance and meaning. He said the words in a way that you really trusted them."