Tomorrow would have been Johnny Cash’s 79th birthday, a historical marker that we usually celebrate by taking out our cowboy boots and pretending to know Carl Perkins. Cash’s legacy is great and varied, but one of his enduring contributions to pop culture was his short-lived but thoroughly awesome stint in television, The Johnny Cash Show. The show lasted a little under two years, but in that time it hosted enough great musical guests to blow most actual festivals out of the water. But are you surprised that the Man in Black had great taste? We didn’t think so. After the jump: Ten amazing performances, from Tammy Wynette to the Staple Singers.
Ray Charles didn’t make it to Cash’s show until near the end of its run, but his performance of “Ring of Fire,” from February of 1970, ranks among the best covers of that song ever. Charles’s gorgeous, silky rendition strips the song of its jangle and swagger, turning it into an instant soul classic.