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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Johnny Cash Dead

Aired September 12, 2003 - 06:39   ET

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

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We're talking about Johnny Cash this morning. He has died at the age of 71. He died earlier this morning in a Nashville hospital.
We have live on the phone right now Charlie Chase, who is a long- time country music journalist.

Good morning.

CHARLIE CHASE, COUNTRY MUSIC RADIO TV HOST: Good morning, Carol. How are you?

COSTELLO: You've talked to Johnny Cash. Tell us about him.

CHASE: Well, first of all, let me say that in Nashville, although -- the country music community here is known worldwide. It's a very close-knit, tight bunch. And when somebody like Johnny Cash or anyone in this community passes along, we feel the hurt, the pain far more than many people might expect, because although you don't work with Johnny Cash on a daily basis, you know Johnny Cash.

And having worked with Johnny Cash, there was something about him that was very special. He would walk into the room and just his stature, his aura, was something that was very impressive. You know that the man had star quality, true magnetism.

COSTELLO: Oh, yes.

CHASE: So, the loss of Johnny Cash is a great one for Nashville and country music.

COSTELLO: Oh, and his music, I understand he dressed in black because he didn't want to detract from his music.

CHASE: Well, and it also became just a symbol of Johnny Cash, and you're not going to see Johnny Cash wearing anything but black. I mean, that was the style of Johnny Cash, whether or not it had to do with his music, his persona or whatever, it just became a trademark.

COSTELLO: And, of course, he lent a great deal to music of all kinds, didn't he?

CHASE: You know, especially Johnny Cash had a tremendous influence on the early stages of country music, of course, through his wife, June Carter Cash, the Carter family. The basics of country music ran deep through Johnny Cash and his whole family, and as well as gospel music. So, Johnny had a love for all kinds of music; all kinds of music loved Johnny Cash. In reference to the recent MTV Music Awards, you know, his video was up for several awards. He won one.

COSTELLO: Oh, yes.

CHASE: Yes.

COSTELLO: And it's, like, what was it about him that young people liked?

CHASE: Maybe his -- he was one of the early outlaws when you think about it -- the early stages of the outlaw movement, which was carried on by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and all of those guys. Cash was there in the forefront of that. So, maybe...

COSTELLO: I heard he was banned from Nashville...

CHASE: Well...

COSTELLO: ... from the Grand Ole Opry because he was fighting in the '60s.

CHASE: That doesn't surprise me. I mean, yes, those stories are rampant. But Johnny had a persona about him. I guess he -- I guess that the young people liked the rebellious nature of Johnny Cash.

COSTELLO: Yes, well, let's talk about this June Carter Cash. She died not long ago.

CHASE: Right.

COSTELLO: Everybody here is saying, oh, he probably in part died from a broken heart, because, you know, he really missed her.

CHASE: That's true. That's very true, because they had been married almost 35 years prior to her death, and they were inseparable, and not only from their music, but just in their personal lives. And they spent so much time together away from the hubbub of Nashville and the demands of country music. So, they were very close, very much in love on up until the end.

And, yes, you can understand that Johnny had a broken heart, and he was in failing health at that point anyway.

COSTELLO: Yes, we understand...

CHASE: So, it was a contributing factor.

COSTELLO: We understand, Charlie, that he was sent home from the hospital on Tuesday and he was actually in good spirits. Do you know more about that?

CHASE: Yes, from what I understand this morning, it was yesterday afternoon that he was rushed to the hospital with the idea -- I believe it was more stomach problems. And I think that contributing factor, along with other ailments that he was suffering from, finally was his demise.

COSTELLO: All right, Charlie Chase, long-time Nashville country music journalist joining us live by phone from Nashville this morning.

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