Johnny Cash artifacts at the Phoenix Musical Instrument Museum
A new Johnny Cash and Carter Family exhibit is on display in the Artist Gallery at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.
Cullen Strawn, curator for North America at the museum, helped acquire the items after meeting John Carter Cash in Hendersonville, Tennessee, at Johnny Cash’s former home. He is the only child of Cash and June Carter Cash.
“In the history of popular music in America, the Carter family and Johnny Cash are extremely important and influential,” Strawn said. “The opportunity to display these objects and share songs and stories with the public is very special.”
The exhibit features items belonging to Johnny Cash, including a black Martin guitar and a stage costume with similar black embroidery depicting oak leaves and acorns, created after Cash established his “Man in Black” persona.
Next to this display is what Strawn calls a “more intimate room,” a smaller Martin guitar that Cash only played at home.
“Visitors would play it, family would play it,” Strawn said. “It was built in 1936, then custom inlayed in the early 1970s with the acorn and oak leaf theme.”
The exhibit also includes a custom autoharp made for June Carter Cash, a second-generation performer in the Carter family band. Strawn’s favorite item is AP Carter’s 1929 Martin 00-28 guitar, which he played while playing in the band.
“It’s a beautiful guitar that has gone through the making of enduring classic American music, and it’s magical to stand before it,” Strawn said.
Here’s the full list of what’s on display:
• AP Carter’s 1929 Martin 00-28 guitar.
• June Carter’s Orthey autoharp and picks.
• The black Manuel Cuevas costume embroidered with acorns and oak leaves by Johnny Cash (jacket, waistcoat, pants, boots).
• Johnny Cash’s black Martin D-42JC#1 guitar.
• Johnny Cash’s small Martin 5-18 guitar with custom acorn and oak leaf inlay.
• Johnny Cash’s 2002 Grammy Award for “Give My Love to Rose”, Best Male Country Vocal Performance.
• Several LP sleeves.
• Images from the Grand Ole Opry and John Carter Cash archives.
• Video footage.
Details: Until April 2016. Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix. $18, $14 for ages 13-19, $10 for ages 4-12, free for ages 3 and under. 480-478-6000, mim.org.