How much was Johnny Cash worth?
|Date of Birth:
|February 26, 1932 (aged 71)
|United States of America
|6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
About Johnny Cash
With over 1000 songs recorded and many of them being classics, Johnny Cash was a music legend and is remembered through biopics, biographies, and his music continues to be passed down from generation to generation.
The artist has almost 10 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and unlike many other country singers that have fallen by the wayside, Cash’s music has never become outdated due to his meaningful lyrics, strange sense of humor, and one-of-a-kind voice. Owed also to his outlaw demeanor, Cash is one of the best selling musicians of all time, and he has a music catalogue bigger than The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan put together.
Though it took the singer a few years to properly find his own sound, firstly writing gospel songs, after recording the early hits “Cry Cry Cry” and “Hey Porter” in 1955, it didn’t take long after that for Cash to become a superstar. Up to now, Cash has sold 90 million records and that number continues to grow. In his career, the country singer released 67 albums, which is almost as many years as he was alive!
Surprisingly, Cash’s most famous song, “Ring of Fire”, was not an instant hit when it was first released. Though it was released as a single in the United States, it underperformed and just became another track in Cash’s discography of 500+ songs. However, Cash re-recorded it with a mariachi band, and overtime the song grew more popular and now has over 180 million plays on Spotify.
His other seminal songs include “I Walk The Line”, “Man In Black”, and “Folsom King Blues”, which peaked at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and a live version was even recorded in Folsom Prison itself.
Cash became known for often putting on free performances in prisons, and he even released two live albums recorded in prisons to universal acclaim. His live prison album, Johnny Cash in San Quentin, was even his first ever number one album on the Billboard 200 album charts, and it even outsold The Beatles.
Though Cash ended up behind bars several times for misdemeanors, he never actually served a prison sentence himself, despite taking on an outlaw image. Cash has claimed he performed at prisons to give something back to the people that he felt connected to.
In the 90’s when Cash’s workflow rapidly slowed down and people didn’t show as much of an interest in him as they used to, he went in to the studio with Rick Rubin, the legendary producer who produced prominently hip hop music at the time. Together, they recorded the album American Recordings, a stripped back album with a guitar, Cash’s vocals, a microphone, and nothing else.
This started a career resurgence for Cash, as it was the highest charting album he had put out in almost a decade, and it started the stripped back sound that Cash became known for in his final recording years. American Recordings was the first record in the America’ series, and Cash continued to work only with Rubin for the final records before his death.
In 2005, Walk The Line, a biopic of Cash’s life was released, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the country singer, who has a stunning resemblance to Cash. The film focused mostly on Cash’s relationship with his second wife June Carter. The movie was viewed by millions, making an estimated $180 million worldwide, and it even won an Academy Award.
In the 50s, around the time of the release of “Walk The Line”, Cash was making 3% royalties on all of his music, and he made a handsome amount for that song alone, as it remained in the charts in the US for almost 10 months. Though not all of his singles did as well as that, considering Cash released over 170 singles, that’s quite a pay check. Over the course of his career, Cash had 17 singles sitting at the top spot of the country chart.
And Walk The Line was the best selling album he had up to that date, being certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Along with his proper albums, Cash has put out dozens of compilation records, compiling his tracks in to greatest hits, his “best” songs, Christmas collections, and more. Surprisingly, the compilations are where Cash found the most success in album sales, but it isn’t too hard to believe as knowing where to start with almost 70 albums is no easy task.
Many of his compilations have been certified platinum and 2x platinum. His best selling compilation is 1999’s 16 Biggest Hits, selling over three million copies. His live albums have also outperformed his studio material, with Live at San Quentin selling eight million units.
While Cash started his career making gospel music, he didn’t find any success in it, so he made the smart decision to switch up his sound to a style that has now become synonymous with him, rockabilly.
Rockabilly music was an early form of rock and roll and was first referred to as hillbilly music, hence its name.
The first thing anybody notices about a Johnny Cash song is his distinct voice. Cash’s baritone vocal delivery carried all of his songs and he rarely ever changed his pitch, except for when he was shouting. Though there have been many imitators of his voice in the years since Cash reached worldwide fame, the singer was the only musician at the time implementing this type of vocal style.
Not only is his singing voice so unique to him, but the words that Cash sings is undoubtedly original, especially at the time. In the years when musicians were singing love songs and country musicians were making fun music that encouraged dancing dosey-does in barns, Cash’s music was influenced by the Great Depression that his parents had suffered from. His rebellious and sorrowful lyricism is one of the most appealing factors of Cash’s music.
Even Cash’s fun songs with supercharged guitar licks and brass bands are juxtaposed with distressing lyrics. In his later years, Cash’s albums featured less original material and mostly covers of pre-existing songs. What was so successful about this were the songs that Cash chose to cover, as they weren’t just other country songs, but alternative and modern.
Most famously, on American IV: The Man Comes Around, the final album before his death, Cash covered “Hurt” by the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. The song is arguably Cash’s most emotional and powerful song, and it has become his most played song on Spotify with over 300 million plays.
Cash’s Total Net Worth
Johnny Cash has earned estimated total career income of $100 million dollars. Cash sold 90 million records worldwide. As Cash lived between the state of California, Arkansas and Tennessee, and earned through some high federal income tax years, it is estimated that he paid around 52% in taxes on his career income. After tax, it is estimated that his career earnings were $48 million dollars, having paid $52 million dollars in taxes.
Johnny Cash married Vivian Liberto in 1954 and they divorced twelve years later, in 1966. They had four children together, Rosanne, Kathy, Cindy and Tara Cash. It is estimated that between $2-4 million of Cash’s after tax income went in Vivian’s direction. Johnny Cash later married June Carter Cash in 1968 and they divorced thirthy-five years later, in 2003. They had one child together, John Carter Cash, and it is estimated that around $5-7 million went to June as part of a divorce settlement.
In his personal life Johnny likely spent $10 million dollars of his career earnings but also earned $15 million dollars from his investments. He will have also had to pay around $3-4 million dollars in business related costs. Therefore, it is estimated that Johnny Cash has a net worth of about $40 million dollars.
Rarely venturing in to any industry outside of music, Cash accrued the wealth he had solely through writing classic songs that stand the test of time and making other artists’ songs his own. At the time of his death, Johnny Cash had an estimated net worth of $40 million in 2013, and his estate has surely grown a lot more, owing to the success of Walk The Line and the release of posthumous albums and compilations on an almost yearly basis.
With a discography so deep it’s almost impossible to listen to everything, Cash gains hundreds of thousands of new fans every year and is still one of the most beloved musicians of all time.