On This Day: June Carter Cash, Second Wife of Johnny Cash, Died at Age 73 in 2003

by Halle Ames
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On this day in 2003, June Carter Cash, the second wife of Johnny Cash, died in Nashville at the age of 73.

Don’t let her husband’s last name outshine her own. June Carter Cash was just as much a superstar as Johnny.

Born on June 23, 1929, in Mace Springs, Virginia, June quickly found her passion for music when her family started one of the first country music family groups.

June, accompanied by her sisters Helen and Anita, created the Carter Sisters. According to her biography, the middle sister was in charge of singing, playing the autoharp and rhythm guitar, as well as keeping the audience entertained with her charming wit.

June Carter Cash was married twice before she settled down with The Man in Black. She had one child with each of the men.

June Carter and Johnny Cash Era

After a quick stint at acting, June returned to her first love of music and began touring with her family once again. In the early 1960s, her path crossed with Johnny Cash’s, who she admitted to having a crush on. After a long and strenuous courtship, Carter agreed to marry the outlaw bad boy. The two said “I do” on March 1, 1968.

Together the two were a hit singing sensation, recording a number of songs, including “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “Jackson,” and “If I Were a Carpenter.”

June Carter Cash and Johnny had a son, John, in 1970.

For the next twenty years, June put her career on hold to support her husband’s growing fame and raise their children. June had three children in total, and Johnny Cash’s first wife raised their four.

Out of Retirement

In 1999, June shocked fans who had thought she retired with an album titled Press On. The album went on to win a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. Four years later, she did it again with Wildwood Flower. She took home two Grammys this time.

The song “Keep on the Sunny Side” was one that her family had performed together growing up, but June Carter Cash recorded it solo for the Wildwood Flower album. The rendition secured her the award for Best Traditional Folk Album and Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

Unfortunately, Carter Cash died on May 15, 2003, due to complications from heart surgery. Johnny was so consumed with grief for his beloved wife that he soon followed in September.

Their love story has inspired the hearts of millions. It also made its way to the big screen with a film titled Walk the Line, where notable actress Reese Witherspoon portrayed June Carter Cash. Witherspoon won an Academy Award for the performance.

Today, we honor you, June! Here’s to all you accomplished in your 73 years of life and your unmatched relationship goals.

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