John R. "Johnny" Cash (February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author who was considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Although he is primarily remembered as a country music icon, his songs and sound spanned other genres including rockabilly and rock and roll—especially early in his career—and blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of induction in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Cash was known for his deep, distinctive bass-baritone voice, for the "boom-chicka-boom" sound of his Tennessee Three backing band; for a rebelliousness, coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor; for providing free concerts inside prison walls; and for his dark performance clothing, which earned him the nickname "The Man in Black". He traditionally began his concerts with the phrase "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash.", followed by his standard "Folsom Prison Blues".
Much of Cash's music echoed themes of sorrow, moral tribulation and redemption, especially in the later stages of his career. His best-known songs included "I Walk the Line", "Folsom Prison Blues", "Ring of Fire", "Get Rhythm" and "Man in Black". He also recorded humorous numbers like "One Piece at a Time" and "A Boy Named Sue"; a duet with his future wife, June Carter, called "Jackson"; and railroad songs including "Hey, Porter" and "Rock Island Line". During the last stage of his career, Cash covered songs by several late 20th-century rock artists, most notably "Rusty Cage" by Soundgarden, "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode and "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails.
Soundgarden talks about Cash's cover and plays live: