Johnny Cash's 'Folsom Prison Blues': 5 Things You Didn't Know - Rolling Stone
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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’

Man in Black got his start at Sun Records, but there’s more to the man and the myth

CMT’s new series about legendary producer Sam Phillips, Sun Records, chronicles the birth of rock & roll by spotlighting the early careers of Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley. Kevin Fonteyne stars as the future Man in Black, who had his first success with Phillips at his iconic Memphis recording studio. Ahead of Sun Records‘ February 23rd premiere, here are five things you didn’t know about its most famous artist.

The song is partially plagiarized.
Cash cribbed from Gordon Jenkins’ “Crescent City Blues,” which includes the opening line “I hear the train a’comin’; it’s rollin’ ’round the bend.” Cash forked over a reported $100,000 after Jenkins sued him for copyright infringement.

Cash scored a major hit with “Folsom Prison Blues” – twice!
A Top Five single in 1956, “Folsom Prison Blues” returned to the country charts a dozen years later, this time as the lead track from At Folsom Prison.

The cheers heard during the live version of “Folsom Prison Blues” were secretly spliced into the recording.
The hoots and hollers heard after the lyric, “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die,” were added by producer Bob Johnston.

Cash began performing “Folsom Prison Blues” for inmates in the late Fifties, more than a decade before At Folsom Prison‘s release.
The occupants of a prison in Huntsville, Texas, gave Cash his first incarnated audience back in 1957. When rainy weather ruined his band’s equipment, Cash finished the show solo.

A country classic since the 1950s, “Folsom Prison Blues” has made its way into countless genres.
Dozens of artists, from Buckcherry to Everlast, have put their own stamp on the song, updating Cash’s twang with everything from psychobilly percussion to hard rock riffs. 

In This Article: CMT, Johnny Cash


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