BILL & SUE-ON HILLMAN: A 50-YEAR MUSICAL ODYSSEY
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Photo Scrapbook
June Carter: The Early Years I
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JUNE CARTER CASH
JUNE CARTER CASH (1929.06.23:  born Valerie June Carter in Maces Spring, Virginia was an American singer, musician, songwriter, comedienne, actress, and wife of Johnny Cash. She was a member of the legendary Carter Family, the first family of country music, and as well as having hits of her own had hits with Johnny Cash -- 'Ring Of Fire', 'Jackson', 'If I Were A Carpenter'. She won  five Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

She was born into country music and performed with the Carter Family from the age of 10, beginning in 1939. In March 1943, when the Carter Family trio stopped recording together at the end of the WBT contract, Maybelle Carter, with encouragement from her husband Ezra, formed "Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters" with her daughters, Helen, Anita, and June. Their guitar player early on was Chet Atkins.

As a singer, she had both a solo career and a career singing with first her family and later her husband. As a solo artist, she became somewhat successful with upbeat country tunes of the 1950s such as "Jukebox Blues" and, with her exaggerated breaths, the comedic hit "No Swallerin' Place" by Frank Loesser. June also recorded "The Heel" in the 1960s along with many other songs.

In the early 1960s, June Carter wrote the song "Ring of Fire", which later went on to be a hit for her future husband, Johnny Cash. She co-wrote the song with fellow songwriter Merle Kilgore. June wrote the lyrics about her relationship with Johnny Cash and she offered the song to her sister Anita. Anita Carter was the first singer to record the song. In 1963, Johnny recorded the song with the Carter Family singing backup, and added mariachi horns. The song became a number-one hit and went on to become one of the most recognizable songs in the world of country music.

Her first notable studio performance with Johnny Cash occurred in 1964 when she duetted with Cash on "It Ain't Me Babe", a Bob Dylan composition, that was released as a single and on Cash's album Orange Blossom Special. In 1967, the two found more substantial success with their recording of "Jackson", which was followed by a collaboration album, Carryin' On with Johnny Cash and June Carter. All these releases antedated her marriage to Cash (upon which event she changed her professional name to June Carter Cash). She continued to work with Cash on record and on stage for the rest of her life, recording a number of duets with Cash for his various albums and being a regular on The Johnny Cash Show from 1969-1971 and on Cash's annual Christmas specials. She won a Grammy award in 1999 for, Press On. Her last album, Wildwood Flower, won two additional Grammys.

Director Elia Kazan saw her perform at the Grand Ole Opry in 1955 and encouraged her to study acting. She studied with Lee Strasberg and Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York. Her acting roles included Mrs. "Momma" Dewey in Robert Duvall's 1998 movie The Apostle, Sister Ruth, wife to Johnny Cash's character Kid Cole, on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (199397), and Clarise on Gunsmoke in 1957. June was also Momma James in The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James.

Carter was married three times and had one child with each husband. All three of her children went on to have successful careers in country music. She was married first to honky-tonk singer Carl Smith from July 9, 1952, until their divorce in 1956. Together, they wrote "Time's A-Wastin". They had a daughter, Rebecca Carlene Smith, professionally known as Carlene Carter, a country musician. June's second marriage was to Edwin "Rip" Nix, a former football player, police officer, and racecar driver, on November 11, 1957. They had a daughter, Rosie, on July 13, 1958. The couple divorced in 1966. Rosie was a country/rock singer. On October 24, 2003, Rosie, aged 45, died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Fellow musician D. Campbell and she were on a school bus, which had been converted for travel. Several propane heaters were being used to heat the bus.

Carter and the entire Carter Family had performed with Johnny Cash for a number of years. In 1968, Cash proposed to Carter during a live performance at the London Ice House in London, Ontario. They married on March 1 in Franklin, Kentucky, and remained married until her death in May 2003, just four months before Cash died. The couple's son, John Carter Cash, is a musician, songwriter, and producer.

June died in Nashville, Tennessee on May 15, 2003 at the age of 73, from complications following heart-valve replacement surgery, surrounded by her family including her husband of 35 years. Heartbroken, Johnny died four months after June's death.

~ References: Wikipedia and John Einarson


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