Johnny Cash’s Sister Says He ‘Gave His Life Back To God’ Before His Death


Joanne Cash, Johnny’s sister, is offering up a new documentary that gives us more insight into his faith and devotion. The doc, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon, details Johnny’s battle with depression and drug addiction and his faith’s role in his journey through the hard times.

To the outside, Johnny, who passed away in 2003, was a music icon — the “Man in Black” — but to Joanne, he was just “a country boy.” According to her, Johnny was “right in the middle” of the seven siblings they shared. The closest sibling to him was Jack, whom she considered inseparable from Johnny.


Ole dreams of a country icon


“There was something special about Johnny from the very beginning,” his younger sister shared. In the documentary she narrates how they looked forward to the Saturday night Grand Ole Opry on the radio, which particularly inspired Johnny.


“He said, ‘Isn’t it great? Listen to that music. One day, you’re going to hear me on the radio,'” Joanne recalled. “I kind of laughed, because I was a kid. And I said, ‘Really?’ He said, ‘Yes, you’re going to hear me sing one day on the radio.’ I didn’t believe it at the time, but I certainly believe it now.”

RELATED: Johnny Cash’s Son Says His Father’s Greatest Legacy Was His Faith

Johnny wrote songs and poems as he grew and looked up to music artists like Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, and the like. The late icon was famously known for the song “Man in Black,” which, according to Joanne, explained the reason for his fashion color choice: “He’d wear it for the young and the old and the people who had never read the words that Jesus said. And he said, ‘I wear it for the prisoner who is long paid for his crime, because he’s a victim of the times.’ If you listen to the wording of that song, you will find out the reason he wore black.”

Johnny’s Journey To Christian Faith

Joanne revealed her brother became a born-again Christian in 1972, in the same church where she rededicated herself back to faith in 1970 after dealing with drugs and alcohol. “I can happily say I haven’t had a drink since 1970,” she said. “Not any of those drugs.”

Johnny also had his bout with drugs earlier in his career. He took a lot of pills to keep up with his career demand, which led him down the path of near-death experiences, rehab stints, and interventions after a relapse in the late ’70s.


“He, like all of us, was not perfect. We are not perfect. That’s why we need a Savior. Johnny knew he wasn’t perfect, he fell. He went into the dark side. And in the drug years, he almost lost his life,” Joanne noted. “But God showed him some sort of a light. And I believe that was the Lord. It was the Holy Spirit leading him out of that darkness. And it changed his life.”

What led Johnny back to the Christian faith?

“That’s why he gave his heart back to the Lord and emerged from that darkness,” she continued. “I want people to know that as long as there is life and breath, there is hope.”

The Johnny Cash Show, Johnny Cash, 1969 / Everett Collection

Johnny also became close-knit friends with preacher Billy Graham, who invited him to his crusade events while he was alive. The documentary Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon chronicles Johnny’s life, and Joanne hopes that viewers not only see him for his musical achievements but also his devotion and love for Christ.

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