Fans Sound Off On Sam Hunt’s Off-Key “Johnny Cash-Inspired” Performance Of “Locked Up” At The CMT Music Awards

Channeling Johnny Cash? What?

Sam Hunt took the to stage at the CMT Music Awards for a performance of his latest single, “Locked Up,” that was introduced as “channeling Johnny Cash.” But it sounded more like he was channeling Fergie singing the national anthem…

In the video for the song, Hunt dressed as Johnny Cash from his prison performances at San Quentin and Folsom Prison, as he laments how he almost lost the love of his life, his wife Hannah, thanks to his “young, dumb, rowdy phase.”

Of course the autobiographical song is referring to his November 2019 arrest for DUI that landed him behind bars, as well as his wife’s 2022 filing for divorce (which she retracted a couple of months later).

“The night I got locked up, everything went wrong
The night I got messed up, should’ve just stayed home
Pickеd up my phone, what can I say?
I thought that you’d walk away
But you stood by your man, Tammy Wynette
It hit thе fan, you could’ve just quit
Nah, but you showed me love
You didn’t go when the goin’ got tough, the night I got locked up”

The video not only features Sam dressed in black with his slicked back hair playing for inmates in a scene reminiscent of Cash, but also includes his wife Hannah evoking June Carter Cash as she stands beside him through the tough times.

But fans weren’t impressed with his attempt at evoking the Man in Black during the CMT Awards…

I mean, if you’re going to claim to be channeling Johnny Cash, you can’t sound like THAT…

Cash’s Stone-Faced Reaction To Dolly Saying She Had “Horny” Feelings For Him

It’s well-documented that Dolly Parton had a huge crush on the Man in Black back in the day.

And though it kinda goes without saying, even Dolly couldn’t resist Johnny Cash’s undeniable charisma, charm and all-around good looks that made him one of the most recognizable and iconic artists in all of music. I mean, who could blame the girl?

But until now, we had never really heard Johnny’s take on that moment when Dolly first realized she was into him, which was actually when she saw him perform on the Grand Ole Opry for the first time when she was a very young teenager.

And you’d have to imagine that any man on the planet would be completely flattered knowing they were Dolly Parton’s first crush, but Johnny had an interesting reaction to finding that out.

Back in 1997, Johnny appeared on Ralph Emory On The Record in promotion of his book Cash, in which he talks about being the first person to introduce Dolly at the Opry when she was just 13 years old.

Ralph then played some of Dolly’s comments for Johnny to watch from an episode she was on previously, where she elaborated on those feelings she got the first time she saw him and realized what sex appeal was:

“Johnny Cash was the person that introduced me that night. And Johnny, first time I saw him, that’s when I really, that’s when he was lean and lanky, and that’s when I first realized what sex appeal was.

I was 13 years old, it was like ‘Oh!’ It was like, holy moly, what is this? And then, little did I know, he’d be the first person to introduce me on the Opry.”

You can always count on Dolly to be 1,000% herself, and I love her for it.

And not only did she say she experienced the true meaning of sex appeal because of Johnny, but she added that it was the first time she ever felt horny, which is pretty damn hilarious hearing that from the ultimate southern belle herself:

“I didn’t say anything, my mouth just flew open. Well first, I had seen him on stage, and I had all these feelings. Which now I know is just being horny. Well, sex appeal, or something… I don’t know if that’s exactly the word. That’s what I was.”

And while you would think Johnny would’ve been at least slightly animated, or even a little flustered, by the compliment, he was pretty stoic in his very simple response:

“I really appreciate that, that was nice of her.”

Dolly Parton, an extremely well-known sex symbol in her own right, just said Johnny was the first man that ever made her horny and that’s all he’s got to say about it?

I mean, I expected just a little bit more than that, but hey, I think it’s safe to say that Mrs. June Carter Cash probably appreciated that response. Johnny was a smart man, indeed…

Check it out that part of the interview, it’s easily the best thing you’ll watch all day:

And back in the early ’80s, Dolly took part in a gospel record with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Brenda Lee, which was eventually turned into a television special hosted by Johnny Cash.

So she did eventually got her big moment on stage with her former crush, and I imagine it was a pretty full circle moment from decades before when she first met Johnny:

Merle Haggard Witnessed The “Power Of Johnny Cash” As An Inmate At San Quentin

January 1st… New Year’s Day.

An important day in the history of country music as it was the day of Hank Williams tragic “last ride.” Yes, January 1st, 1953, the country music world said goodbye to a pioneer, the great Hank Williams, at just 29 years of age.

However, just a few years later, on that very same day, another country music pioneer was formed.

January 1st, 1960, was the day that Johnny Cash played one of his iconic concert at San Quentin State Prison, the maximum-security prison just outside of San Francisco.

And one of the inmates in San Quentin State Prison in 1960 (it’s often misreported as 1959) was none other than the great Merle Haggard.

Just 20 years old at the time, Merle Haggard was blown away by Johnny Cash, and at that moment, he decided to straighten up, give up a life of crime, and get serious about making country music (you know, as soon as he got out of jail).

According to Rolling Stone, Cash lost his voice, but still was able to hold a room full of convicts in the palm of his hand:

“He lost his voice that day. It was just a whisper. But his charismatic manners sold him to the convicts. They really liked him, and I did, too, and I was prepared not to like him for some reason.

When he didn’t have a voice and he was able to bring the people around, I understood the power of Johnny Cash. It was overwhelming.”

In fact, according to Merle, everybody in the prison loved Johnny:

“He had the right attitude. He chewed gum, looked arrogant and flipped the bird to the guards—he did everything the prisoners wanted to do.

He was a mean mother from the South who was there because he loved us. When he walked away, everyone in that place had become a Johnny Cash fan.” 

The Hag wound up only serving 2 years of his 15 year sentence at San Quentin (the only prison that could hold him). He was eventually pardoned by California Governor Ronald Regan.

Of course, Johnny Cash would return to San Quentin in 1969. That concert was recorded and released as an album, the Grammy-nominated At San Quentin  album, and was also released as a television documentary titled, Johnny Cash in San Quentin.

Years after that San Quentin show, Merle would meet Johnny in a bathroom, about to play a show together, and they started talking about that iconic San Quentin show. But for some reason, Johnny couldn’t remember Merle performing…

And that’s because Merle wasn’t performing…

“Yeah, he thought I might’ve been one of the performers. I had to tell him, ‘No, I was in the audience.’”

They later made the same joke on an episode of The Johnny Cash Show in 1969. The conversation went a little something like this:

Haggard: “Funny you mention that, Johnny.”

Cash: “What?”

Haggard: “San Quentin.”

Cash: “Why’s that?”

Haggard: “The first time I ever saw you perform, it was at San Quentin.”

Cash: “I don’t remember you being in that show, Merle.”

Haggard: “I was in the audience, Johnny.”

And the rest is history.

Here’s a look back at Johnny Cash’s 1969 concert at San Quentin

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock