Sunday, April 22, 2007
Burning ring of fire
From correspondents in Hendersonville, Tennessee
JOHNNY Cash's longtime lakeside home, a showcase where he wrote much of his famous music and entertained US presidents, music royalty and visiting fans, has been destroyed by fire.
Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash, lived in the 1290sqm home in Hendersonville from the late 1960s until their deaths in 2003.
"So many prominent things and prominent people in American history took place in that house - everyone from Billy Graham to Bob Dylan went into that house," said singer Marty Stuart, who lives next door and was married to Cash's daughter, Cindy, in the 1980s.
Stuart said the man who designed the house, Nashville builder Braxton Dixon, was "the closest thing this part of the country had to Frank Lloyd Wright".
"It was a sanctuary and a fortress for him," Stuart said. "There was a lot of writing that took place there."
Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys lives on the same road as Cash. "Maybe it's the good Lord's way to make sure that it was only Johnny Cash's house," Sterban said.
The property was purchased for a reported $US2.3 million ($2.79 million) by Barry Gibb, a former member of the Bee Gees, in January last year.
Gibb and his wife, Linda, had said they planned to restore the house and hoped to write songs there.
They had not yet moved in to the property.
Dixon built the three-storey house in 1967 for his own family, but Cash fell in love with it. Dixon was reluctant to sell, but Cash kept after him. "It was a very, very unusual contemporary structure," said Cash's brother, Tommy. "It was built with stone and wood and all kinds of unusual materials, from marble to old barn wood.
"I don't think there was a major blueprint. I think the builder was building it the way he wanted it to look."
The younger Cash said many holidays and family get-togethers were spent at the house. And while Johnny and June also owned a house in Jamaica and another in Tennessee, they considered this one to be their home.
"Johnny and June lived there the entire time they were married," Tommy Cash said.
"It was the only house they lived in together until they both passed on."
The cause of the fire is unknown.
Cash's long career, which began in the 1950s, spanned folk, country and rock 'n' roll. His hits included Ring of Fire, Folsom Prison Blues and I Walk the Line.
AP, in The Australian