Rockabilly country

In between the "pure" rockabilly of the 1950s (Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, etc.) and the honky tonk country of the same decade (Lefty Frizzell, George Jones, etc.), were a few artists whose styles are hard to pigeonhole. Most notably, Johnny Cash. Cash started and remains today fundamentally a country artist, yet his first recordings with Sam Phillips' Sun Records in Memphis (I Walk the Line, Folsom Prison Blues) displayed strong early rock & roll/rockabilly influences.

Not a big influence on the Stones per se, this subgenre of country music did have an effect on Keith's development, who learned playing guitar to both country and rock and was heavily into such country rock marriages from his beginning (e.g. Elvis's own Sun Records recordings).

JOHNNY CASH  (1932-2003)

Born in Arkansas, Cash's career started out with Sam Philips in Memphis, where in the mid-50s he cut country records, but which featured the same production sound and some of the same early rock & roll features as fellow Sun Records artists Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

By the late '50s, Cash had moved away from that style and went on to experiment with a number of styles throughout his career. Though extremely popular, he has always remained somewhat of an outsider in terms of the country establishment, never fitting in within industry categories. He sang gospel, pop-country, and made nostalgic/historical "western" records with spoken narrative passages. With his limited but expressive low singing voice, his somber appearance and lifelong drug and alcohol abuse, he built a career out of sustaining a certain myth and legend.

Cash's early records were some of the first that Keith listened to and started playing guitar to, along with the similar-sounding early Elvis recordings.

Keith used to play country-and-western music beautifully, just like Johnny Cash. He'd sit on his own for hours listening to country-and-western records and then play it. We'd sit for hours in the kitchen and he'd play for me.

                                                   - Doris Richards, Keith's mother

 Keith got to play with Johnny Cash in early 1992, at the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies, at the all-star jam that followed the awards presentations.

SANFORD CLARK  (1935-     )

Born in Oklahoma, Clark was a singer who had brief success in the mid-to-late 1950s with Johnny Cash-like country songs that were married to a rockabilly beat. Keith had exposure to Clark in art school.

There was another cat at art school called Michael Ross. He decided to form a country-and-western band - this is REAL amateur - Sanford Clark songs and a few Johnny Cash songs, Blue Moon of Kentucky. The first time I got onstage and played was with this C&W band.

                                                  - Keith Richards, 1970

Written by Ian McPherson, 2000-03.
Like all files on Time Is On Our Side, it is the exclusive intellectual property
of Ian McPherson and cannot be duplicated, in any form, without his authorization.

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