Michael StreissGuth on Johnny Cash´s 'At Folsom Prison' live album: "It was the quintessential 1960s statement"

Cowboy Anton interviews Michael Streissguth, biographer of Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold and Johnny Cash, about his book "Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison. The Making of a Masterpiece"

On January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash (1932-2003) took the stage at Folsom Prison in Folsom, California. The concert and the live album, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, propelled him to worldwide superstardom. He reached new audiences, ignited tremendous growth in the country music industry, and connected with fans in a way no other artist has before or since.Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison is a riveting account of that day, what led to it, and what came after. Scrupulously researched, rich with the author's unprecedented access to Folsom Prison's and Columbia Records' archives, illustrated with more than 100 photos, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison shows how Johnny Cash forever became a champion of the downtrodden, as well as one of the more enduring forces in American music.

 

At Folsom Prison is a live album and 27th overall album by Johnny Cash, released on Columbia Records in May 1968. After his 1955 song "Folsom Prison Blues", Cash had been interested in recording a performance at a prison. His idea was put on hold until 1967, when personnel changes at Columbia Records put Bob Johnston in charge of producing Cash's material. Cash had recently controlled his drug abuse problems, and was looking to turn his career around after several years of limited commercial success. Backed with June Carter, Carl Perkins and the Tennessee Three, Cash performed two shows at Folsom State Prison in California on January 13, 1968. The resulting album consisted of fifteen tracks from the first show and two tracks from the second.

 

Despite little initial investment by Columbia, the album was a hit in the United States, reaching number one on the country charts and the top 15 of the national album chart. The lead single from the album, a live version of "Folsom Prison Blues", was a top 40 hit, Cash's first since 1964's "Understand Your Man". At Folsom Prison received positive reviews and revitalized Cash's career, becoming the first in a series of live albums recorded at prisons that includes "At San Quentin" (1969), "På Österåker" (1973), and "A Concert Behind Prison Walls" (1976). The album was rereleased with additional tracks in 1999, a three-disc set in 2008, and a five LP box set with bonus rehearsals in 2018 for Record Store Day. It was certified three times Platinum on March 27, 2003 by the Recording Industry Association of America for US sales exceeding three million.

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