For The Record – ‘Johnny Cash At San Quentin’

On this day in 1969, Johnny Cash reached the top spot in the Album Charts with his live LP ‘Johnny Cash At San Quentin’. The album was recorded in California’s oldest prison that year, at a show in February, and then released in June; just over one year after his first surprisingly successful live album, ‘Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison’.

Cash created and maintained an outlaw image throughout his entire career and, although he never actually served a prison sentence, his numerous brushes with the law gave him a deep compassion for prisoners. He began performing in prisons in the late 1950s with his first ever prison concert on January 1, 1958 at San Quentin State Prison.

From that time, Cash had the desire to release a live album of one of his performances within a penitentiary, but an uninterested record label and a severe drug-addiction meant that the project did not come to fruition until 1968. By that time, Cash had turned his career around by controlling his drug abuse, marrying June Carter and establishing new relationships with the personnel in Columbia Records.

‘At Folsom Prison’ rejuvenated Cash’s career and his subsequent release, ‘At San Quentin’, became his first album to reach the Number One position in the Pop Charts. It also provided him with a hit single in ‘A Boy Named Sue’. This success ultimately led to an offer from ABC that gave Cash his very own television show from 1969 – 1971.

At the age of 37, the ‘Man In Black’ was back.

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