Even country music legend Johnny Cash was awe-struck by Elvis Presley. In a 1988 interview, Cash explained why Presley was his favorite performer.
“The best performer probably was Elvis Presley. I don’t think anybody could touch him,” Cash said in an interview. “I never saw Hank Williams, who was one of my favorites. He died before I ever got to see him.”
Presley had certain qualities that separated him from his peers. Even early in his career, the future King of Rock ‘n Roll had the makings of a star. According to Cash, there were two qualities that decide star power, and Presley had them in spades. Presley had charisma and also a magic to his music that many other musicians wished they had. Presley was a natural every time he got up on stage.
“He had a lot of rhythm. He was a very good singer. And he was a fabulous performer in the way he moved the people,” Cash said. “When he was 19-years-old, that’s when I toured with him at first. And not only the girls loved Elvis. But every man backstage was standing in the wings watching Elvis. He had that charisma, that magic that a great performer needs to get the people right there.”
Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley Were Friends
Of course, Cash only really knew Presley early in his career. Both started their careers out in Memphis, Tennessee, and quickly became acquainted. The two musicians became friends and even briefly performed together. They had jam sessions with other musicians like Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis to form the Million Dollar Quartet.
As their careers took off, Cash and Presley didn’t stay in touch with each other. But Cash continued to speak fondly of Presley for the rest of his life and even shared a few memories with his kids.
“My dad and Elvis were friends,” his son John Carter Cash told Express. “They worked side by side when Elvis was there at Sun Records. Elvis went on to make his films and some more music later on and they never worked again together after the 1950s. They each had their own individual, unique traits as artists. … Dad’s (career) reached in different directions than Elvis’ did enduring a legacy as a long-standing artist, having resurgences and renaissances throughout his life.”
It’s obvious that their friendship had an effect on Cash even though the two didn’t remain close, and the country legend was saddened when Presley passed away.