I have some great memories of the past 43 years of being a Johnny Cash fan. I remember the first time I saw him. It was 1979 and I almost left it too late to get tickets for his concert in Brighton. Since then I have been fortunate to see him in concert many times. The first concert Carole and I ever went to together was Johnny Cash (Portsmouth Country Music Festival in 1980) and with the exception of one concert (London in 1994) she has always been there with me. Until late-1994 I felt I was in a minority as a Cash fan but this was set to change with an idea I came up with one day on my way to work.
And so it was that in December 1994 I published the first issue of Johnny Cash-The Man in Black, never expecting to still be running it almost twenty years later or to have a readership that spread across the world. I set up a website to complement the fanzine and was amazed and honoured, when it won the Music Lover Category at the NTL Best of British Broadband Awards in 2004. I was presented with my award by Neil Fox at an awards dinner held at The Ivy in London. My interest in Johnny Cash led to me writing a book about his career, a day-by-day chronicle which was also nominated for an award (unfortunately I did not win this one).
I have so many great memories from the past twenty years and have made so many friends through my work. Here are just a few memories - my working association with Lou Robin and Sony Music Entertainment who have supported the fanzine, the respect and help I have received from Cash’s family including Rosanne and Kathy, the invitation from Lou Robin to attend the Memorial Concert in Nashville and all the people I met during my trip (I will always regret that Carole could not come with me), the thrill of receiving advance copies of new CDs, books and DVDs, the many Cash projects I have worked on… the list goes on and on.
It is so difficult to pick out any particular event for special mention but one does come to mind. Johnny Cash made his last concert appearance in the UK in May 1997. A meeting had been arranged by Joe O’Neil, the UK representative of American Records at the time, and before the show Carole and I were taken backstage at the Royal Albert Hall to meet Cash and have our photo taken. I gave him a copy of the fanzine and he thanked me for all my work. He also signed a photo which he dedicated to Carole and I. Both photos take pride of place in my office. While backstage we also met June Carter-Cash, John Carter-Cash, Bob Wootton and Earl Poole Ball. It is a day I will never forget.
In closing I’d like to thank all those who have supported my efforts including Lou Robin, Rosanne Cash, Kathy Cash, Mark Stielper, Tom Burleigh, Tom Cording and, of course, all the subscribers and friends I have met over the years. Last but certainly not least I must thank Carole for all her support. Without her there would be no fanzine. Here’s to the next twenty years!