Johnny Cash proposed to June Carter 45 years ago today
Though they have both passed, today we celebrate what would have been the 45th wedding anniversary of Johnny and June Carter Cash. Following a somewhat rocky and entirely unconventional courtship, it was on this day in 1968 that Johnny proposed to June onstage during a performance at the London Ice House, a hockey arena in Ontario, Canada. She said yes, and they were wed a week later a at a church in Franklin, Kentucky... followed by a nonalcoholic reception at Johnny's home.
It's well-known that the two were friends for long before their marriage, and that June played a big role in helping Johnny cope with the troublesome drug addiction that plagued him most his adult life. Johnny and June met in 1956 while performing as part of the Opry, and by the mid-1960s, the two had hit the road as a duo. They won a Grammy in 1968 for their duet of "Jackson," and by the time they were married, won again in 1971 for another duet, "If I Were a Carpenter."
As the story goes, on February 22, 1968 they had just performed their version of "Jackson" onstage at the hockey arena when Johnny stopped the show and said, "Will you marry me?" on the microphone. June responded with, "Go on, sing another, sing another." He replied, "I'm not gonna sing until you answer me -- will you marry me?" to which she again responded, "Sing a song, John, sing a song," turning her back to him and trying to get the band to pick up playing again. The repartee continued until she finally answered him, "Yes."
Johnny and June had three previous marriages between them (one for Johnny, two for June), plus a blended family of seven children (four for Johnny, two for June, and one born to the both of them). Their own 35-year marriage came to a close when June Carter Cash died at the age of 73 on May 15, 2003, from complications from heart valve surgery.
Johnny was holding her hand when she died, and had her Wildwood Flower album cover painted on the elevator of their house in her memory. Johnny himself passed away less than four months later, and they are buried next to each other at Henderson Memory Gardens in their home of Hendersonville, Tennessee, just outside Nashville.
The well-known song "Ring of Fire" was co-written by June in 1963, and for many is synonymous with their early attraction to one another. But "Flesh and Blood," a 1970 single featured in the Gregory Peck film I Walk the Line, is a lesser known (and very sweet) song Johnny Cash wrote about his love for June.
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