When you look at the history of the couple and the obstacles they faced, the success of their relationship appears to be a remarkable achievement.
Both of them were married before, Johnny once and June twice. He had four daughters from his first marriage; she had two. They had one child together-a boy John Carter Cash. They both were part of the entertainment world, not usually a guarantee of long marriages, and Johnny had a lifelong struggle with substance abuse. He fought alcohol and drug addiction, with a few setbacks during his long career.
Johnny Cash was born in Arkansas in 1932. On his journey to fame in the music world, he picked cotton, worked in an auto factory, joined the Air Force and sold items door to door. He married his childhood sweetheart Vivian and they had four daughters. But the marriage that began with promise was destroyed by his problems with alcohol and drugs. Vivian filed for divorce in 1966.
June Carter was born into the famous singing Carter family headed by Maybelle Carter along with June’s sisters Anita and Helen. She and Johnny met at the Grand Old Opry. They occasionally performed duets at the Opry during the sixties and became close.
Johnny’s problems with pills and booze earned him a bad boy reputation and a series of arrests including one for starting a forest fire. At one point, while in a cave under the influence of drugs, he planned to commit suicide. A spiritual awakening while in the cave caused him to decide to fight his addiction. June Carter and her family moved in to the Cash mansion for a month to help him. June said she wouldn’t marry Johnny till he had cleaned up.
He proposed to her on stage at a London, Ontario performance. They were married shortly after. He remained clean for years but in the late seventies had problems with amphetamines again. A stint in the Betty Ford clinic helped him this time. He had another setback in the late eighties but his rehab stay in 1992 was his last.
His final on stage performance was in July 2003, two months after June’s death and shortly before his own. He said then, “The spirit of June Carter overshadows me tonight with the love she had for me and the love I have for her. We connect somehow between here and heaven. She came down for a short visit I guess from heaven to visit with me tonight to give me courage and inspiration like she always has.”