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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Johnny Cash Show

Highlights from Johnny Cash's variety television program. The Johnny Cash Show was an American television music variety show hosted by Johnny Cash. The Screen Gems 58-episode series ran from June 7, 1969 to March 31, 1971 on ABC; it was taped at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The show reached No. 17 in the Nielsen ratings in 1970.

Cash opened each show, and its regulars included members of his touring troupe, June Carter Cash (his wife) and the Carter Family, The Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and The Tennessee Three, with Australian-born musical director-arranger-conductor Bill Walker. The Statler Brothers performed brief comic interludes. It featured many folk-country musicians, such as Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Merle Haggard, James Taylor and Tammy Wynette. It also featured other musicians such as jazz great Louis Armstrong, who died eight months after appearing on the show.

The show started with an hour-long tryout offered by ABC as "a summer replacement for their Saturday night variety extravaganza The Hollywood Palace." While Cash had a large degree of freedom, he "had to accept some compromises by hosting showbiz royalty like Bob Hope, George Gobel, Kirk Douglas, Burl Ives, Peggy Lee and Lorne Greene. They gave the show gravitas that satisfied both advertisers and the network". The show was recorded at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, then home of the Grand Ole Opry.The show was conceived by Bill Carruthers, who also served as executive producer and director for the first season. Stan Jacobson was also a producer on the show. Myles Harmon was the program executive for ABC Television.

The first show featured Joni Mitchell, Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw, Fannie Flagg as a comic, and Bob Dylan. The show included a "Country Gold" segment which featured legends rarely or never seen on network TV such as Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys. Author Rich Kienzle suggests that as well as providing entertainment, the show operated as a "Country Music 101". Cash persisted in the face of ABC "network anxieties" on several occasions. He refused to cut the word "stoned" from Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down", he stood by his Christian faith "despite network anxieties", and persisted in bringing on Pete Seeger whose anti-Vietnam War song on another network had "caused a firestorm". He premiered his "Man in Black" song on an episode taped at Nashville's Vanderbilt University campus. The show was canceled in 1971 as part of ABC's involvement in the so-called "rural purge" in which all three major broadcast networks eliminated rural and older skewing programs. The purge also affected ABC's The Lawrence Welk Show.

Highlights from Johnny Cash Show (59 min)


Times Past has no affiliation with Old Time Radio Researchers. Any related content is provided here as a convenience to our visitors and to make OTRR's work more widely known.

References: Old Time Radio Researchers Group, Wikipedia, Frank Passage & Others OTR Logs, Archive.org, Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio by John Dunning, Australian Old Time Radio Group

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