Johnny Cash (1932-2003) is an icon of American music. While primarily thought of as a country singer, his massive body of work also contains songs that could be categorized as gospel, rock and roll, and blues. His incredible range and talent influenced generations of musicians, including Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and so many more.
Along with his music, the details of Cash’s personal life are well-known—his struggles with addiction to amphetamines, his faith, and most famously, his marriage to June Carter after divorcing his first wife Vivian Liberto. Taken from 1960-1963 in four sessions, these photographs by Leigh Wiener represent a critical moment in Cash’s life. He had recently signed with Columbia Records, where he was able to produce gospel albums for the first time. He had also recently moved his family—wife Vivian and their daughters—to California. But successes only put more pressure on Cash, increasing his usage of amphetamines to cope. And when June Carter joined his tour in January 1962, it was the beginning of the end of his already troubled marriage to Vivian.
Leigh Wiener adeptly captures the complex nature of his subject in these four sessions. An award-winning photographer, at the time he was almost 20 years into a 50 year career in photography and photojournalism. Johnny Cash was only one of many important American historical and cultural figures and moments that Wiener captured on film. With photo credits in magazines like Life and Time, four photographs in the National Portrait Gallery, and so much more, Wiener left an indelible legacy. The images in this exhibition are from his estate and were provided by his son, Devik Wiener. This digital collection is based on the exhibit of the same name, which hung at Pepperdine University during Spring 2015, curated by Jeanette Woodburn.
Learn more about Leigh Wiener or visit his official website.