56 Years Ago Today, Johnny Cash Proposes To June Carter On Stage After A Duet Of “Jackson”

Johnny Cash Country Music
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When it comes to country music power couples, it doesn’t get more iconic than Johnny Cash and June Carter.

Country music royalty, icons that transcended the genre, the pair were married for 35 years and their love story is one of the most well-documented and well-respected in the music business. In June, the recently released Paramount+ documentary focusing on the life and legacy of the great June Carter Cash we get to see her detail the moment she met Johnny Cash:

“I was backstage and this big tall guy stops me and said ‘Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.'”

It was 1956, and Cash was set to play the Grand Ole Opry for the first time. At the time, Cash and the Tennessee Two were coming off the release of “I Walk the Line,” which had yet to go number one and hadn’t seen a ton of success on the charts to that point. Alongside his lead guitarist Luther Perkins, and bassist Marshall Grant all decked out in black, the trio kickstarted a three song set.

According to Rolling Stone, June Carter was trying to tune her guitar and hurry on stage for her set when Cash introduced himself, but Carter already knew who the Man In Black was, as she was introduced to his music while touring with Elvis Presley. And Cash was familiar with her too. Nevertheless, sparks still flew.

Cash told Carter:

“I’ve always wanted to meet you.”

And she responded:

“I feel like I know you already.”

She recalled the night in the liner notes of Cash’s 2000 box set, Love, God, Murder:

“I can’t remember anything else we talked about, except his eyes. Those black eyes that shone like agates… He had a command of his performance that I had never before. Just a guitar and a bass and a gentle kind of presence that made not only me, but whole audiences become his followers.”

Sure enough, June Carter divorced her husband Carl Smith later that year. She got remarried, but then in 1966, she divorced again, and Johnny Cash divorced his wife, Vivian Liberto. June had been performing with Cash, beginning in the early ’60s, and they recorded their first duet together in 1964. In 1967, they recorded “Jackson” together, which went on to win a Grammy Award in 1968 for Best Country & Western Performance Duet, Trio or Group.

And then finally, 56 years ago today, on February 22nd, 1968, Johnny popped the question to June during one of his concerts in London, Ontario. And I don’t mean backstage or after the show… Johnny and June were performing together on stage and Johnny publicly proposed over the microphone. And then, wouldn’t continue the show until he got an answer.

In an interview, Johnny explained how it all went down:

“We had just sung a song called ‘Jackson’ and I stopped the show and I said ‘will you marry me’ on the microphone and she said ‘sing another, sing another, sing another,’ and I said ‘I’m not gonna sing until you answer me. Will you marry me?’

She said ‘sing a song, sing a song,’ she turned her back trying to get someone in the band to play some music or something. I kept on until she finally said, ‘yes.’

I said, ‘ok, next song.”

Smooth, Johnny… real smooth.

Back in 1996, June detailed the proposal even further, revealing how excited the kids were to get them married as soon as possible. They married March 1, 1968, less than two weeks after Johnny popped the question:

“We started planning to get married in June but my children were so excited that they said ‘you don’t have to wait’ Carlene said ‘I got it all figured out, mama.’ I could not believe it, but that’s what we did… Carlene got us married, Carlene and Rosie (her daughters from her first two marriages), they were excited, they loved John. They didn’t know him real well, before that last 6 months, they really loved him and he’s been a great father to my kids.”

June went on to say that there was never a doubt in her mind that she should marry the Man In Black.

And… the rest, as they say, is history.

Of course, the proposal scene was recreated in the 2005 Johnny Cash movie, Walk The Line.


Watch Johnny and June perform “Jackson” together at the Opry in 1968:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock