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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Johnny Cash Dies

Aired September 12, 2003 - 06:18   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Chad, we're going to talk a little bit more about the Man in Black, Johnny Cash, yes. He died this morning from complications from diabetes. He was 71 years old. He died just about three hours ago at a Nashville hospital.
Want to take a look back at his career. Here's Sean Callebs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Johnny Cash spent the last five decades making music with his sobering blend of baritone and guitar. Born in 1932, Cash grew up on an Arkansas cotton farm singing Baptist hymns. But Johnny wasn't born with that voice.

JOHNNY CASH, SINGER: I was a high tenor until I was 17. And I was cutting wood one day with my father with a crosscut saw, and I came home that afternoon my voice dropped immediately.

CALLEBS: He picked up guitar during a stint in the Air Force and released his first single in 1955. Fame came quickly with songs such as "I Walk the Line," "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Ring of Fire," a love song he co-wrote with his second wife, June Carter Cash.

By 1969, the Man in Black was the best selling recording artist alive, even outselling the Beatles. He won 11 Grammys, along with a Grammy Legend and Lifetime Achievement Award.

CASH: If legend fits, I'm very happy with it.

CALLEBS: But it wasn't always sunny skies. In his autobiography, Cash spoke frankly about the demise of his first marriage and long-term drug addiction. Despite his admittedly self- destructive behavior, the father of five kept making music, collaborating with the best in his field and maintaining the affection of fans attracted by his soulful lyrics and straight up style. Whether he was singing about a love gone bad or a life ill spent, Johnny Cash was admired by generations of fans for simply telling it like it is.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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