In 1992, Johnny Cash was battered and bruised. In constant pain through heart problems, broken bones and the aftermath of a second bout of drug addiction, his career wasn't in much better shape than his body. One of his last singles for CBS, before they dumped him in 1986 after nearly 30 years, had been 'The Chicken In Black' – in the video for which he appeared as a superhero fowl, dressed in cape, yellow shirt and tights.Author Graeme Thomson is the author of the acclaimed biographies on Elvis Costello: Complicated Shadows, Willie Nelson: The Outlaw (Virgin, 2006), an intimate portrait of Willie Nelson; and most recently Kate Bush: Under The Ivy and is also the author of I Shot A Man In Reno (Continuum 2008), a subjective history of the many different, often unsatisfactory ways popular music has dealt with the issue of mortality.
Cut to a little under two years later, December 1993, Cash is being introduced by Johnny Depp at the Viper Room in LA, with Sean Penn, Juliette Lewis and assorted Red Hot Chilli Peppers in the crowd, cheering, for the full ninety minutes. He had just completed recording his landmark American Recordings with Rick Rubin and would win a Grammy for that and four other American Recordings albums. He played an unforgettable Glastonbury set in 1994 and from thereon, until his death in 2003 (and beyond), Cash was the epitome of hip. Big Daddycool.
What happened?: The Resurrection Of Johnny Cash tells the story of perhaps the most remarkable turnaround in musical history. As well as acknowledging Cash's drug, drink and religious travails in the fifties and sixties, the book digs much deeper, focusing on a lesser known but no less remarkable period of his life: the inglorious fall post-1970 and the almost biblical rebirth in his later years. Homing in on the ten-year period between 1986 and 1995, The Resurrection Of Johnny Cash tells in detail the story of Cash's humiliating fall from grace and his unprecedented revival; his struggle with a cruel variety of illnesses; his ongoing battles with addiction; his search to find direction in his career; his eventual rebirth as both an artist and a man; and his hugely influential legacy.