Johnny Cash was ‘jealous’ of Elvis – Son on ‘secret affair’ with June Carter

JOHNNY CASH was a giant of the music industry and famously devoted to his wife June Carter. Their son revealed how his mother confided that Johnny had been "jealous" of the King while he, in turn, used to practice "trying to sound like Johnny Cash."

Fans worldwide are celebrating Johnny Cash’s 90th birthday this weekend. His relationship with June remains as iconic as his music and they were both utterly in love with each other. However, their only child, John Carter Cash, recalled how his mother would get a “mischievous twinkle” when she spoke of her early days with Elvis. The King and Johnny were friends with huge mutual personal and professional respect for each other, but June told her son she sometimes wondered what would have happened if she had married The King. After all, they built their music careers side by side in tour buses and local clubs and Elvis would often sleep over at her house in between.

Elvis and June were contemporaries on the Memphis and Southern US music scenes in the mid-1950s and often toured together. Meanwhile, The King and Johnny were both signed to Sun Records and June recalled how the young aspiring star would often talk about Johnny and croon his songs, innocently promising to introduce her to the man who would become her husband one day – although nobody knew it at the time. Nor could anyone imagine the twelve years of heartache it would take before they were finally married.

June Carter had been performing from a young age on the country music circuit with her sisters and mother Maybelle. Elvis also started his career touring the theatres, fairs and radio stations of the southern states with his bandmates Scotty Moore and Bill Black.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.510.1_en.html#goog_1126520734https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.510.1_en.html#goog_1126520736https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.510.1_en.html#goog_1126520738https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.510.1_en.html#goog_1126520740

Elvis, Johnny Cash and June Carter

Elvis, Johnny Cash and June Carter (Image: GETTY)

Johnny Cash and June Carter

Johnny Cash and June Carter (Image: GETTY)

June later described how it was Elvis who introduced her to Johnny’s music on their first tour together.

She wrote: “He was stooped down on one knee and grasping a guitar trying to tune it to somewhere near the correct pitch to make a correct chord ring. (He would sing) ‘Everybody knows where you go when the sun goes down, Ah-ummm, Ah-ummm’ and he’d strike the guitar again. Plink, plunk: ‘Ah-ummm …’

“‘What are you trying to do?’ I asked. ‘I’m trying to tune this guitar, honey, and I’m trying to sing like Johnny Cash.'”

June Carter and her family group
June Carter and her family group (Image: GETTY)

The King was singing one of Johnny’s earliest hits, Cry Cry Cry, as he tuned his guitar.

June described what happend next: “‘Who is Johnny Cash?’ I asked Elvis Presley. ‘What’s the a-um-a-um for?’

“‘That’s what drives the girls crazy,’ Elvis said.

“‘I don’t know this Johnny Cash,’ I said, and Elvis said: ‘Oh you’ll know Cash. The whole world will know Johnny Cash. He’s a friend of mine’.

“So the whole tour, my first with Elvis, we went into small cafes all throughout the south and Elvis played Johnny Cash on the jukebox while I fought off the girls trying to get through Scotty, Bill and I to Elvis.”

June Carter  in 1956

June Carter in 1956 (Image: GETTY )

June and Johnny finally met backstage at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, in June 1956. He was about to go onstage to debut what would become one of his most iconic hits, I Walk The Line.

June said: “I found myself backstage trying to tune my guitar humming ‘Ah-ummm Ah-Ummm’, when all of a sudden, there he was! The voice was the same. Johnny Cash took me by the hand and said, ‘I’ve always wanted to meet you’.

“The strangest feeling came over me. I was afraid to look him in the eyes. It was one of the things I did best. I never stammered and still found myself not able to say much of anything. I think I finally blurted out – ‘I feel like I know you already. Elvis plays you on the jukebox all the time and he can’t tune his guitar without humming Cry, Cry, Cry. Now he’s got me doing it.'”

Elvis Presley life in pictures

Elvis Presley life in pictures (Image: GETTY)

Both described the powerful instant attraction, but both were also married – June to singer Carl Smith and then Edwin Lee Nix, and Johnny to his teenage sweetheart Vivian Liberto.

At the time however, there was more speculation over June’s relationship with Elvis. He was, of course, notoriously linked with women he worked with throughout his career, as well as fans in every city he visited.

In 2008, June’s son John Carter Cash released the biography Anchored In Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash with his own insight into the stars’ relationship.

He wrote: “Throughout my life, I would see Mom get a mischievous twinkle in her eye whenever she mentioned Elvis Presley. Her eyes would flash merrily, and she would say, ‘You know, son, your father was always jealous of Elvis.’

Johnny Cash and June Carter 1991

Johnny Cash and June Carter 1991 (Image: GETTY)

“She even told me once that she sometimes wondered what would have happened if she had fallen in love with Elvis.

“Mom and Elvis occasionally toured together, along with other performers, sometimes including Mother Maybelle and one or more of June’s sisters. The Carter’s were friends of Elvis, and there are stories about Mother Maybelle sewing buttons on Elvis’ shirts when they popped off during his wild onstage gyrations.

“Though Mom always maintained that she never had an affair with Elvis, Carl (her first husband) believed differently and perhaps for good reason. After Carl moved out of their Madison home, Mom would sometimes let Elvis stay at the house to ‘rest’ after a tour.”

Johnny Cash June Carter Las Vegas 1997

Johnny Cash June Carter Las Vegas 1997 (Image: GETTY)

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