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New Collection Of Rare, Vintage Johnny Cash Recordings Released

Johnny Cash
Columbia/ Legacy Records

More than seven years after the death of Arkansas-native Johnny Cash, a new collection has just been released of rare, vintage recordings.

As FM 89's Michael Hibblen reports, “Bootleg II: From Memphis to Hollywood” spans the first 15 years of Cash's music career, and includes his first radio broadcast, when Cash and the Tennessee Two got a weekly show on West Memphis station KWEM.

On the program, the unknown performer would alternate playing original songs with doing live commercials for Home Equipment Company, which is where Cash was working at the time selling venetian blinds and other products while trying to establish his music career.

It would be a pivotal time for Cash, who that same month in 1955 would record “Hey Porter,” his first 45 single for Memphis-based Sun Records.

The new two CD set also includes demos and alternative takes for songs he recorded for Sun and Columbia Records between 1955 and 1970.

The recordings provide great insight by allowing listeners to hear as Cash was developing his signature sound.

Johnny Cash died September 12, 2003 and is considered by many to be the most influential musician to come out Arkansas.

Michael Hibblen was a journalist for KUAR News from May 2009 — December 2022. During his final 10 years with the station, he served as News Director. In January 2023, he was hired by Arkansas PBS to become its Senior Producer/ Director of Public Affairs.