Mojo - Jim Marshall


Mojo - Jim Marshall
©Jim Marshall Photography LLC
Johnny Cash sits and
contemplates in the
site of Glen Sherley’s
chilling jail composition,
Folsom Prison, Represa,
California, 1968.
Jim Marshall was one of the great photographers
of the modern age, his pictures of Johnny Cash defining
images of 20th century popular culture. Marshall died in March 2010,
while preparing a book on Cash. In tribute to the man and his muse,
MOJO presents this exclusive extract. Words & Images: Jim Marshall.
the eye
of the
cut it. They invited us down for Thanksgiving, along with Tom Jans,
who wrote Lovin’ Arms. Johnny cut that for Tommy. They cut Hang
Out With Me like a ballad. I was too intimidated by Cash to say,
“Hey, do it like Jackson.” What can you say to Cash?
I went down to photograph the first episode of the ABC-TV
series, The Johnny Cash Show, at Ryman Auditorium, home of
Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. It was a very big deal – Dylan’s first
public appearance since his motorcycle crash.
At the rehearsal, one of Dylan’s men came up to me and said,
“Bobby doesn’t want any pictures taken.”
I said, “Bobby knows me well enough that he could come up and
ask me personally.”
“That’s not the way he does things,” the guy said.
Just at that moment, June Carter comes by. Our voices were getting a little hot. June said, in a sweet voice, “Jim, what’s the matter?”
“We don’t want any photos taken,” Dylan’s guy said.
“Well, son,” June said, “who are you?”
“I’m with Bob Dylan,” he said.
“Jim is with me,” she said. “This is my TV show. Jim is my photographer and he can do whatever he wants.”
Who’s going to say anything to June Carter?
Dylan didn’t say shit. I shot the two of them from about 10 feet.
Over the years, I’ve done record covers with John, magazine
spreads. I can’t remember which. We’re talking about 30 years of
photographs. I did Waylon Jennings at the house with him. A couple
of Johnny’s kids came by. Shot them. Shot his mom and dad with
him at the house. Felt very comfortable. John trusted me.
Funny story – about five years ago I got a call from Steve Bing to
shoot Jerry Lee Lewis in Nashville. Over the years our paths never
crossed and yet Jerry had photographs of mine – Kristofferson,
Cash, Waylon, Carl Perkins – in his house. Jerry said, “Jim, I’ve got
to ask you a serious question. What took you so damn long to get
around to me?”
Johnny had an edge. When John walked in a room, you knew he
was there. There was a hint of danger, but I don’t think he was a
violent man. You just knew he was there. He had a presence that
very few artists have. I think it shows in the photographs.
He didn’t suffer fools gladly. He kept a close bunch of friends
that were very tight to him. The people who loved him, loved him
fiercely, and vice versa. His wife, June Carter, was his lifeline. I remember when they got back together, about a year before the Folsom concerts. He stopped doing drugs. June kept him off the drugs
and saved his life. I think the day she died, he died.
Credit in here
first met Johnny Cash
when he was hanging out with Bob
Dylan at some Greenwich Village
nightclub in 1962. We just hit it off.
I photographed him at the Newport
Folk festivals. When I came back
out to San Francisco in ’64, we
stayed in touch.
When Columbia Records agreed
to do the Folsom Prison shows –
producer Bob Johnston talked them
into doing it – John called them to
have me shoot the concerts.
There was one other photographer there; I don’t know if he even
got inside. I had unlimited access
at Folsom; I could go anywhere
I wanted. The pop music writer Bob
Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times
was there – one of his first assignments for the paper. He’s in some
of the photos. The album, At Folsom Prison, was recorded on a 4-track.
John brought his whole show – The Statler Brothers, Mother
Maybelle Carter, and Carl Perkins, with the Tennessee Three.
Cash stepped down off the bus just as the steel doors to the
prison clanged shut and said, “There’s a feeling of permanence to
that sound.” He went into Greystone Chapel and meditated, prayed
there for a little bit. It was small, held maybe 40, 50 people. He was
going to record a song called Greystone Chapel written by one of
the inmates, Glen Sherley. He cared about the prisoners a lot. He
cared about the conditions and tried to help improve them. Johnny
was never in prison. He got busted once for being drunk, peeing on
the sidewalk, something like that – big deal – but never for a serious
crime. The myth of Johnny is not the man.
Later, they asked me to go to San Quentin. They used somebody
else’s shot for the album cover, more stylised. The shots on the back
are mine. San Quentin is where I got the finger at the soundcheck.
That is probably the most ripped off photograph in the history of
the world. There was a TV crew behind me and John was on the side
of the stage. I said, “John, let’s do a shot for the warden.” He flipped
out the bird. Three frames, a .21 millimetre lens. I don’t know if the
film crew caught it. Elton John bought all three frames.
Billy Roberts, who wrote Hey Joe, and I had written a song called
Hang Out With Me. It was a folk song. I wanted John and June to
©Jim Marshall Photography LLC
Johnny Cash stares
down Jim Marshall,
Folsom Prison, Represa
CA, January 13, 1968.
Left: Johnny in his
home studio with
John Carter Cash,
Tennessee, 1969.
Far left: Newport Folk
Festival, 1969.
“this song was
written by
glen sherley”
Cash meets Mr Greystone
Chapel, Folsom Prison,
January 1968.
you are my
With Bob Dylan in
rehearsals for the
Johnny Cash Show,
June 1969.
i got
is you
Johnny and June at
the Newport Folk
Festival, 1969.
give my
love to
With June Carter Cash
at Folsom Prison,
riding the prison bus,
January 13, 1968.
Pocket Cash by Jim Marshall, published by
Chronicle Books. An exhibition of limited
edition prints from the book opens on March
1 at Snap Galleries, Piccadilly Arcade, London
SW1Y 6HN. For more information visit
©Jim Marshall Photography LLC
Johnny Cash arriving at
Folsom Prison, Represa
CA, on January 13, 1968.