Just about everyone is pained by the loss of music legend Johnny Cash, whose body of work influenced a range of artists from Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams to Metallica and the White Stripes.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Johnny Cash,” said Justin Timberlake through his publicist. Timberlake praised the outlaw country singer/songwriter at the MTV Video Music Awards when he said his Moonman for Best Male Video should have gone to Johnny Cash, whose “Hurt” clip garnered six nominations and one win.
“Given the depth and breadth of influence and status, it’s obvious that words can’t even begin to describe the significance of his passing,” Moby wrote on his Web site. “Suffice it to say that few people have been as powerful and influential as Johnny Cash, and the world is a much poorer place for his absence.”
Cash died Friday morning of respiratory failure (see “Johnny Cash Dead At 71” ).
Moby closed his brief eulogy with a consoling thought: “At least he and June can be together again.” Johnny’s wife June Carter Cash died in May (see “Country Star June Carter Cash, Wife of Johnny Cash, Dies At 73” ).
“I feel music has lost one of its great heroes and the country has lost one of its most authentic voices,” Sheryl Crow mourned in a statement. “I will miss knowing he is continuing to express what everyone feels through his music but I will mostly miss the man.”
Artists whose careers span decades are equally indebted to the Man in Black.
“His influence spread over many generations of different people,” said the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger in a statement. “I loved him as a singer and writer.”
“I am saddened and very sorry for all Johnny’s family,” said Elvis Costello. “He was a great, great man.”
From those who knew him personally, the importance of his work was matched only by the goodness in his heart.
“He showed me his house, his ranch, his zoo (seriously, he had a zoo in Nashville), his faith, his musicianship,” said U2’s Bono on the band’s Web site. “He was more than wise. In a garden full of weeds — the oak tree.”
“Not only has the world lost a legend, but we in country music have lost one of our family,” Country Music Hall of Famer Loretta Lynn said in a statement. “I know both Johnny and June will always be looking down and watching over us all. The stars in heaven are just a little bit brighter.”
“I’m just shocked and saddened and still finding myself stunned by the news of his passing,” read country singer Dwight Yoakam’s statement, “but am eternally grateful for ever having had the opportunity to know him and to share a friendship with him. I will be forever honored that John allowed me the privilege of his company.”
“I lost one of my best friends,” said country singer Marty Stuart, who played guitar in Cash’s band from 1980-85. “It leaves a dark void in my life that is blacker than any coat he ever wore. He is irreplaceable.”
Cash garnered acclaim most recently from a new generation of music fans thanks to his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” which appears on his latest album, American IV: The Man Comes Around.
“To hear that Johnny was interested in doing my song was a defining moment in my life’s work,” said NIN’s Trent Reznor. “To hear the result really reminded me how beautiful, touching and powerful music can be. The world has truly lost one of the greats. My heart goes out to his family and friends.”
The Nine Inch Nails Web site, www.nin.com, was all black on Friday in tribute.
“Hurt” was the latest cover converted into a hit in the American series. With producer Rick Rubin at the helm, the Man in Black basked in a new wave of cool when American Recordings, the first LP in the series, dropped in 1994.
“He’s an outsider, never been part of a trend,” said Rubin, who also noted that he wasn’t a country fan but a Johnny Cash fan. “A rock star is a musical outlaw and that’s Johnny.”
Audioslave’s Chris Cornell agreed with Reznor that being covered by Cash is a great compliment. “Rusty Cage,” by his former band Soundgarden, was remade for Cash’s 1996 album, Unchained.
“The highlight of my musical career,” Cornell called it. “When [Johnny] sings a song, you listen to what he has to say. And he draws from his own experience to make that song believable and get people to understand it.”
To learn more about the infamous Man in Black, check out Kurt Loder’s “Johnny Cash: Original Gangsta.”