Stars React to Cash’s Death

Johnny Cash’s passing brought an outpouring of emotions from throughout the music industry. In their own words, here’s what they had to say:

“Johnny touched so many lives in this business. One of the greatest learning experiences of my life was a four-hour cross-country plane ride with Johnny and June. They showed me that it’s possible to use celebrity to do good in the world, and at the same time, to enjoy life.” — Suzy Bogguss

“I considered myself a friend, he considered me a fan — he indulged me. He showed me around his house, his ranch, his zoo (seriously, he had a zoo in Nashville), his faith, his musicianship — it was a lot to take in. He was more than wise. In a garden full of weeds — the oak tree.” — Bono (U2)

“It’s really hard to put into words all the things I feel about Johnny Cash. I learned to play guitar by learning about a hundred songs by Johnny Cash, who was my hero as a songwriter. As a man, he was the rock of our nation. Growing up, I remember watching him on The Johnny Cash Show and seeing him play “John Henry” — just being floored by that. He was such a dynamic personality, a great leader, and he always stood for the right things. So, how can you even begin to put into words a loss like that?” — Kix Brooks (Brooks & Dunn)

“The day that we would lose Johnny Cash is a day which I think we have all dreaded quietly and secretly until now, and sadly enough, that day is here. I’m grateful to him for being a rebel and pushing boundaries that have encouraged us to not only grow and live but thrive beyond the confines of the ‘norm’. He was our Beacon in Black and the Gentle Giant of our most progressive musical generation. We will miss your long, tall shadow. Much love to your family, Johnny.” — Deana Carter

“I don’t know if I can say this, but it’s how I feel. … To me, Johnny Cash was the original bad ass in music. Not just country music, but all music. Everybody strives to be universal, but he was the first one to make it so … to make it where everybody could see themselves in the songs, in that music. When you can give people all that, their dignity, their power, then you’ve really made a mark — and that’s the kind of mark that will last beyond forever.” — Kenny Chesney

“Growing up in Medicine Hat, everything seemed larger than life … but few things seemed larger than life than Johnny Cash. … That voice, as close to the voice of God as mortal man can get — and it was a voice that was only lifted for the right things, righteous causes, the people no one wanted to recognize. Johnny Cash rocked hard. Harder than anyone. But what really made him stand out, more than the backbeats, the TV shows, the hit records, was how he stood up for the little people, the way he believed in the right things. … He was a beacon for both musical and personal integrity, and he set a bar most of us can only gaze at and dream of, which is the best inspiration of all.” — Terri Clark

“I feel music has lost one of its great heroes and the country has lost one of its most authentic voices. I will miss knowing he is continuing to express what everyone feels through his music, but I will mostly miss the man.” — Sheryl Crow

“It’s a sad day in country music today,” said the Dixie Chicks. “Johnny Cash’s voice was arguably one of the most recognizable and influential in country music. It’s devastating to lose two great country artists in the same year. Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash were truly a dynamic force in shaping the music industry. Our thoughts and prayers are with their family.” — Dixie Chicks

“Johnny Cash was not only bigger than country music; he was bigger than life. The world will never be the same without the man in black.” — Andy Griggs

“Johnny Cash broke all the rules and transcended musical barriers. His attitude, his style and his music made him a true original. Who else could knock on the doors of the pearly gates wearing black?” — Faith Hill

“From ‘I Walk the Line’ to ‘Hurt,’ Johnny Cash was a distinct and original voice of American music and can’t be replaced.” — Alan Jackson

“His influence spread over many generations. I loved him as singer and a writer. I remember years ago a big part of our repertoire was two of my favorite Johnny Cash songs, ‘I Walk the Line’ and ‘Ballad of a Teenage Queen.” — Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones)

“I’m going to miss him, but I’m glad Johnny and June are together again singing their eternal duet. And we are fortunate that he left so much of himself behind to inspire and comfort our souls.” — Robert Earl Keen

“Johnny Cash has always seemed larger than life to me. He is a true American hero, beloved the world over as much for his kindness and compassion and championing of the underdog as for the power of his art. He’s been my inspiration, my faithful friend, my champion — a constant oasis of unconditional love and support. His fiercely independent and free spirit, balanced with his love of family, children and his fellow man, will stand as a shining example of the best of what it means to be human. And he was damned funny, even in the darkest times.
I love you, John
In the cold and Holy darkness
You were always shining brighter than a star
God bless you, John
For the love and joy you’ve given
And the living inspiration that you are.” — Kris Kristofferson

“It’s a sad day in Tennessee, but a great day in heaven. The Man in Black is now wearing white as he joins his wife June in the angel band.” — Merle Kilgore, best-man to Johnny Cash at his wedding to June Carter Cash and co-writer (with June) of the classic “Ring of Fire”

“Johnny Cash was a very giving man. I experienced that in 1991. He spoke at the memorial service for my 7 band members and my tour manager that we lost in a plane crash. His kind words and support comforted us at a time when we needed it most. He understood that need because he had lost his mother the week before but was still willing to be there for us. We will miss him dearly.” — Reba McEntire

“Bigger then any musical genre was Johnny Cash. He was an American music icon that set the standard for how to make music on your own terms. We will miss him.” — Tim McGraw

“Even though all of us try to wear black, there will only ever be one Man in Black. I hate to see our outlaw heroes leave because they have influenced country music so much. I don’t know that anyone can stand on the mountain like they have.” — Eddie Montgomery (Montgomery Gentry)

“I think his love for his wife will be his greatest legacy. Everybody will always talk about his music, but for me, the one thing that I will always remember the most about Johnny Cash is how much he loved his wife, and it was always known.” — Craig Morgan

“Both the Carter and Cash families have had such an impact on the Dirt Band. To lose June earlier this year, it was such a loss. It’s hard to take all this in. … I spoke to John Carter last week, and he said his Dad was doing so great, I was even kinda looking forward to him being at the CMA Awards, even if it was just sitting in the audience. So I guess like so many people around the world today, we’ll all be missing Johnny Cash. It’s a big hole … and you can’t even think about filling it.” — Jeff Hanna (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)

“The world has lost a great American friend. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has been fortunate to have been told we have spanned a generation with our music, but Mr. Cash has spanned generations as well as international borders and brought everybody into his life. If anybody wants to know what the heart of country music is about, just plug into any part of Johnny Cash’s recordings. The great love story that is Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash will now continue again.” — John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)

“Country music has never had a more powerful personality than Johnny Cash. So much can be said about this incredible man. Rock, country and gospel will be fighting to claim his music as their own — and, in the end, they all get to. He brought a Memphis rock ‘n’ roll attitude to country music and all things good about country to rock — and married both of these to gospel music at the same time. There will never be anyone like him ever again.” — Brad Paisley

“He was just one of those guys that didn’t try to be cool, and that’s what made him so cool — he was just himself.” — Charlie Robison

“Generations come and go in country music. It is easy sometimes for the heroes of this genre to be overlooked, but Johnny Cash could not be forgotten. He was, he is, and always will be the epitome of country music. I regret deeply that I have not nurtured a closer personal friendship, but he certainly knew he had my respect.” — Kenny Rogers

“He was the most patriotic Christian I’ve ever known. A true American he was.” — Billy Joe Shaver

“It’s an extremely sad day for all of us in the music community. Johnny Cash had such a tremendous impact and influence on so many of us. I don’t know of any other artist who had such a wide appeal across every music genre. As a friend, he will be sorely missed. As an influence, he will continue to live on.” — Travis Tritt

“Johnny Cash was one of the first concerts that I ever saw. I was 10. I remember the spotlight beam just above my head cutting through the smoke, hitting his guitar. It was at that moment that I realized my own destiny. I’m as saddened as anyone, but I’m sure that there is a sense of peace in knowing that he’s now reunited with June. I guess that makes his passing a bit easier.” — Keith Urban

“Johnny Cash was singled out — a truly great artist. Unique and one of a kind. He was a great American, and his music was the spirit of America — all that is good about this great country. No matter what situation we find ourselves in playing music, we can never go wrong playing a Johnny Cash song. We’re going to miss him.” — Tony Villanueva (The Derailers)

“I can never remember a time when June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash were apart. A vibrant memory I have of them was one where I got to work with them at an Academy of Achievement dinner. These weekends were designed to be an opportunity for specialists in the fields of arts and sciences to speak to young people to inspire them to excel. That was very much representative of June Carter and Johnny’s life, inspiring us and holding each other’s hands along the way. … The thing that’s most on my mind today was their companionship as well as the way June Carter always took such great care of Johnny. It was the sweetest kind of love. I would stare at them during this one particular weekend, so awestruck by their tenderness towards one another. … I am getting married in November and something I will take with me as I walk down the aisle is how inspired I feel by the love of June Carter and Johnny. They were together for so many years. It was always Johnny and June Carter, never one without the other. My heart is breaking today and yet at peace to know how quickly he went to be with her. I just know with all of my heart that they were never apart for very long and what a sweet love they had together. Now they are together for all eternity.” — Wynonna

“I’m just shocked and saddened and still finding myself stunned by the news of his passing but am eternally grateful for ever having had the opportunity to know him and to share a friendship with him. I will be forever honored that John allowed me the privilege of his company.” — Dwight Yoakam