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Johnny Cash, who rose from the Depression-era cotton fields of rural Arkansas to leave a deep mark on the American music scene, died on this day in history, September 12, 2003. He was 71 years old.

“Cash was an original: a rebellious, incredibly captivating and impressive present,” Rolling Stone wrote in a 2016 tribute to the artist.


Artists around the world mourned the loss.

Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger reportedly said shortly after Cash’s death, “His influence spanned many generations of different people. I loved him as a singer and writer.”

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On this day in history, Sept. 9, 1776, American colonies renamed ‘United States of America’

Cash suffered a number of health problems late in life, which severely limited his ability to perform live until the 1990s.

According to official records, he died of complications from diabetes at Nashville Baptist Hospital. His health condition had worsened over the years he spent on the road and battling addiction.

Music site Spindity wrote, “The problems were seen as a pay off by some, including Kris Kristofferson, with Cash subjecting his body to drugs and alcohol at various stages throughout his life.”

But music fans and family members have long speculated that the real cause of Cash’s death was a broken heart.

His wife of 35 years, June Carter Cash, died four months earlier after complications from heart surgery.

John Carter Cash (left), then three years old, became the youngest person to make his Las Vegas nightclub debut when he appeared on the Hilton stage and translated "Mary Had a Little Lamb".  Proud father Johnny Cash holds a microphone for his son.

Author Steve Turner wrote in his 2004 book “The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love and Faith of an American Legend” that Cash, confined to a wheelchair, sat by his wife’s bedside as she was in a coma.

Cash talked to his wife, sang songs and read her hymns.

Johnny Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, later recalled the singer’s deep devotion to the faith: ‘his greatest legacy’.

“He begged her not to leave,” Turner wrote, noting that Cash’s health suddenly deteriorated following his death.

Their legendary and tumultuous love affair began in 1950 when starstruck teen JR Cash met the famous Carter country music family artist after a performance at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

A mural inside Johnny Cash's Bar & BBQ in downtown Nashville promotes an early career performance by the legendary entertainer.

“She saw June and fell in love. She thought she was amazing, Bee Knees,” Lisa Arrington, assistant manager of museum and tours for the Ryman Auditorium, recently told Fox News Digital in an interview in the auditorium. .

Their story was brought to the silver screen in the 2005 Hollywood hit “Walk the Line”, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.

Johnny Cash is King in Nashville: His Melodies, Legacy and Legend Rule Music City

Cash’s hit-making career spanned nearly half a century and transcended supernatural ease into multiple genres, capturing a surprisingly diverse variety of fan bases.

Cash held an incredible 134 singles on the Billboard charts, including at least two chart hits per year for 38 consecutive years.

He died of rock and roll, country music, Nashville Songwriters and a member of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.

In 2001, Cash was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest award for artistic excellence.

Johnny Cash met June Carter, one of the most famous romances in entertainment history, from this backstage location at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, according to music legend.

Even today, 19 years after his death, it’s not uncommon to hear Cash’s music seeping from both rural Tennessee honky-tonks and Brooklyn hipster craft cocktail bars.

According to the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, Cash held an incredible 134 singles on the Billboard charts, including at least two chart hits per year for 38 consecutive years.

His first, “Cry, Cry, Cry” was released in 1955; His last, a haunting remake of “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails, stunned the music world in 2002, a year before his death.

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Cash’s haunting version of the song was accompanied by powerful videos that featured the crooked, old and sick singer set against the backdrop of her Tennessee farmhouse and youth career.

A small portion of the album wall is included in the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville.  Across the album cover is a display of vinyl records that represent Cash's incredible 134 Billboard hit singles.

It proved to be a highly emotional coda to an incredible career and led to both critical and commercial success in the last months of Cash’s life.

“Hurt” won Grammy Awards for Country Music Association Video of the Year and Single of the Year, American Music Awards Song of the Year, and Best Short Form Video.

“Wow, (I felt like) I lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore,” songwriter Trent Reznor said while watching the video for Cash’s version of “Hurt.”