Johnny Cash Once Released 500 Baby Chicks in a Hotel: Story Behind the Ultimate Prank

by Katie Maloney

The Man in Black, Johnny Cash, proves he’s a hell-raiser both on and off stage.

We all know Cash as the dark and brooding Man In Black. However, Cash had a humorous side as well. In fact, he loved pranks. So much so, that Cash even got his bandmates, The Tennessee Three, in on the action. The crew was known for flushing lit cherry bombs down hotel toilets and tossing television sets out of hotel windows. However, their antics got more creative in the late 1950s when they visited a hotel in Omaha Nebraska. Cash and his band purchased a whopping 500 baby chicks. As a prank, the group released 100 chicks on each floor of the hotel they were staying at. Just imagine 500 chickens running around a fancy hotel.

Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Three circa 1959. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Johnny Cash Isn’t The Only Performer Who Loved Pranks

After months away from family and friends, it makes sense that performers might get a little bored. That’s why it’s a fairly common practice for bands to play pranks while on tour together. Such was the case for Cash and the Tennessee Three. It was also the case for Kiss and Rush when they toured together in 1975. According to Rolling Stone, the bands started a prank war with each other. Apparently, the members of Kiss were the first to kick off the series of pranks when they stormed the stage in full costume during the last song of Rush’s set. The band covered Rush with cream pies, string cheese, and silly string. The stage was such a mess, band members kept slipping and the instruments were almost unplayable. Naturally, Rush had to get Kiss back. So, they put Limburger cheese in front of all of Kiss’s onstage fans which caused the air to smell terrible during their set.

We like the silly string and cream pies gag, but we still think Johnny Cash takes the crown for best on-tour prank.