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June Carter Cash Dies

Country music legend was seventy-three

June Carter Cash, daughter of Mother Maybelle Carter and wife of
Johnny Cash, died just after six o’clock last night in Nashville;
she was seventy-three. Carter Cash had been in critical condition
since undergoing surgery to replace a heart valve on May 7th.

Valerie June Carter was born June 29th, 1929, in Maces Spring,
Virginia, into the most important group in country music history,
the Carter Family. Her mother, Maybelle Carter, sang and played
guitar with cousins Sara and A.P. and other family members, putting
her indelible stamp on folk tunes like “May the Circle Be Unbroken”
and “The Wabash Cannonball.” June was playing with the group by
1939.

Still, Carter Cash is best known for her love for her husband
and its testimonial “Ring of Fire,” a song she wrote about him that
ranks among his best-known recordings. She wrote the song in 1963
with Merle Kilgore; at the time, Carter and Cash were both involved
with other people.

“I never talked much about how I fell in love with John,” Carter
Cash told Rolling Stone in 2000. “It was not a convenient
time for me to fall in love with him, and it wasn’t a convenient
time for him to fall in love with me. One morning, about four
o’clock, I was driving my car just about as fast as I could. I
thought, ‘Why am I out on the highway this time of night? I was
miserable, and it all came to me: ‘I’m falling in love with
somebody I have no right to fall in love with.’ I was frightened of
his way of life. I thought, ‘I can’t fall in love with this man,
but it’s just like a ring of fire.'”

At that point, Johnny Cash told Rolling Stone, “We
hadn’t said, ‘I love you.’ We were afraid to say it, because we
knew what was going to happen: that eventually we were both going
to be divorced, and we were going to go through hell. Which we
did.”

The two were married in 1968.

As well as scoring hits with her husband on duets like “If I
Were a Carpenter” and “Jackson,” Carter Cash also had a successful
solo career. Her acoustic, autobiographical 1999 album Press
On
earned her a Grammy. She had recently finished work on
another new set, Wildwood Flower, which is scheduled for
release on August 5th.

In 2000, Johnny Cash, who has suffered health problems of his
own over the past five years, told Rolling Stone that
Carter Cash had “saved my life more than once . . . There’s
unconditional love there. She’s always been there with her love,
and it has certainly made me forget the pain for a long, long time,
many times. When it gets dark, and everybody’s gone home and the
lights are turned off, it’s just me and her.”

In This Article: Johnny Cash

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