Rosanne Cash

Rosanne Cash's unique brand of country-folk rock has impressed critics and country-music fans, many of whom have long since stopped thinking of her as merely Johnny Cash's daughter.

Rosanne Cash was born to Johnny and his first wife, Vivian Liberto, 44 years ago today in Memphis, Tenn. The family relocated to Ventura, Calif., where Rosanne was raised. Her parents divorced in 1966 and, soon after her high school graduation, Rosanne joined her father's entourage as a wardrobe assistant. In a short time, she became one of his backing singers.

In 1976 Cash left her father's touring group and moved briefly to London but returned to the States to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville. She also studied acting at Hollywood's Lee Strasberg Theater Institute.

In 1978 Cash issued a self-titled debut LP in Germany, but she was unhappy with the results. She then signed with Columbia Records. Cash married singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell, and toured with his band, the Cherry Bombs.

Columbia released Cash's first U.S. LP, Right or Wrong, in 1980. Such cuts as "Man Smart, Woman Smarter" were typical of Cash's tough attitude, which was rare in Nashville at the time and which eventually led to her break with the country-music establishment. The next year's Seven Year Ache was a critical favorite and spawned a country hit with the title tune.

The best-reviewed albums of her career were 1985's Rhythm and Romance (featuring Tom Petty's "Never Be You") and 1987's King's Record Shop (including four country chart-toppers such as John Hiatt's "The Way We Make a Broken Heart" and a cover of her father's hit "Tennessee Flat Top Box"). In 1990 Cash issued Interiors, a commercial flop that got mixed reviews. She and Crowell began to split; she subsequently moved to New York City.

From Hits 1979-1989, Cash had a country #1 with the Beatles' "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party." Cash began writing fiction with 1996's well-reviewed collection of short stories, "Bodies of Water." She also concentrated on music with confessional lyrics on such albums as The Wheel (1993) and Ten Song Demo (1996).

This year, Cash covered Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" (RealAudio excerpt) on Searching for Jimi Hendrix, which featured versions of the late guitar great's tunes by various artists.

Cash said of Hendrix: "I wore a black armband to school the day he died."

Other birthdays: Bob Dylan, 58; Sarah Dash (Labelle), 57; Derek Quinn (Freddie and the Dreamers), 57; Steve Upton (Wishbone Ash), 53; Albert Bouchard (Blue Öyster Cult), 52; and Rich Robinson (The Black Crowes), 30.