Country legend Johnny Cash continues to battle double pneumonia in a
Nashville hospital, where his condition is listed as "serious." Doctors
would not predict when the Man in Black would be released, but say that he
is undergoing treatment for both that illness and Parkinson's disease.
"He's currently listed in serious but stable condition," said Jessica Etz,
media relations director for Baptist Hospital, late Monday afternoon. "He
is continuing to receive treatment here at Baptist Hospital for pneumonia
and Shy-Drager Syndrome," or multiple system atrophy, the specific
Parkinson's-related disease that affects Cash, Etz said.
She could not say whether the 65-year-old singer was conscious or talking,
but noted that family and friends were close by. Etz also could not
confirm whether Cash's treatment still included the use of a ventilator as was
reported over the weekend by the Nashville Banner newspaper.
Cash was admitted to Baptist Hospital more than two weeks ago, less than a
month after the active performer stunned the music world with the
announcement that he was suffering from Parkinson's Disease.
He first revealed his condition publicly during an Oct. 25 concert in
Flint, Mich., when he almost fell while reaching for a dropped guitar pick.
Audience members thought he was joking when he attributed his instability
to Parkinson's until Cash told them, "It ain't funny. It's all right. I
refuse to give it some ground in my life."
The singer subsequently canceled the remainder of his concert tour, as well
as a series of book signings to promote his new volume Cash: The
Shy-Drager syndrome is a progressive neurological disorder whose effects
are sometimes tempered with medication. It often results in fluctuating
blood pressure, as well as vision and speech impairment among other symptoms.
During his four-decade career, Cash has written more than 400 songs and has
worked with a wide variety of artists, including Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan,
U2 and Beck. In the past several years he has brought his unmistakable
baritone to a younger audience with his American Recordings and
Unchained albums, the latter of which featured Cash performing with
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and included his cover of Soundgarden's
Cash has sold more than 50 million albums, including the renowned live
collection Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. He is the only artist to
be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. -- Chris Nelson [Tues., Nov. 18, 1997, 9 a.m. PDT]