Johnny Cash’s Album Sales Skyrocket

As the nation remembers Johnny Cash, consumers are filling in the gaps of their CD collection. Sales of Cash’s extensive catalog of recordings have skyrocketed since his Sept. 12 death, landing seven albums on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart in the music trade publication’s Sept. 27 issue.

Even higher chart numbers are expected in Billboard’s Oct. 4 issue covering a full week of sales through Sept. 21. The existing chart reflects sales through Sept. 14 — just three full days following news of Cash’s death early on the morning of Sept. 12.

“We sell a lot of Cash, all the time, but we’ve seen a big sales surge,” says Andy McLenon of the Nashville-based Ernest Tubb Record Shop chain. Noting that consumers from all walks of life have been purchasing the CDs, McLenon said the top seller is Cash’s most recent studio album, American IV: The Man Comes Around, which includes a video for the song, “Hurt.”

As might be expected, The Man Comes Around, remains the most popular title nationally, too, moving from No. 94 to No. 22 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. Released in 2002, the album has now sold more than 575,000 copies. In comparison, Cash’s previous album — American III: Solitary Man — has sold less than 200,000 copies since its release in 2000.

A 2-CD greatest hits compilation, The Essential Johnny Cash, re-enters the Billboard 200 at No. 130. Additionally, June Carter Cash’s Wildwood Flower debuts at No. 34 on the Top Country Albums chart. She completed the album shortly before her death on May 15.

On the Top Country Albums chart, The Man Comes Around jumped 14 spaces to land at No. 2. The Essential Johnny Cash moved from No. 59 to No. 20. Johnny Cash at Madison Square Garden returned to the chart at No. 39. Other greatest hits collections on the chart include The Heart of a Legend (No. 49), The Best of Johnny Cash: 20th Century Masters, The Millennium Collection (No. 54), The Legend of Johnny Cash: First Original Hits (No. 66) and Johnny Cash Sings His Best: 40 Original Hits (No. 71).

Cash’s 16 Biggest Hits is at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Catalog Albums chart, a listing of older titles. Other entries on the country catalog chart include Super Hits (No. 3), Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (No. 8), Johnny Cash at San Quentin (No. 9), Johnny Cash: The Collection (No. 15), Giant Hits (No. 18) and American III: Solitary Man (No. 23).

16 Biggest Hits made a 20-slot jump to hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Pop Catalog Albums chart. Other titles on the pop catalog albums chart include the Super Hits collection and the Folsom Prison and San Quentin live albums.

The discography on Cash’s own Web site lists more than 130 album titles, many of them greatest hits packages. Hitting the market just days before his death are separate CDs featuring Cash and June Carter’s live performances in Shreveport, La., on radio station KWKH-AM during the ‘50s and ‘60s. Both are titled Live Recordings From the Louisiana Hayride.

Aside from CD sales, Cash memorabilia has become a hot property on the eBay Internet auction site. As of Thursday (Sept. 18), more than 5,300 Cash-related items were listed. One seller is seeking $15,000 for a Martin acoustic guitar Cash signed and donated in 1985 to a charity for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. At the lower end of the scale, sellers are seeking up to $15 for copies of Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper containing the front page obituary. Ironically, The Tennessean is currently selling the copies for a mere $5 — including postage and handling.