By the time 1968 began, the popularity of Johnny cash was on the wane. He was already going through a set of minimal success with his music, and his label Columbia Records was going through a personnel change in their country division, as in ousting Cash’s longtime producers Frank Jones and Don Law, in favor for Bob Johnston. But at the same time, he was also recovering from drug problems, and a spectacular comeback was soon to be around the corner.
It was on January 10, 1968, Cash traveled to Sacramento, California to prepare for a recording of a live album inside Folsom State Prison. Three days later, after rehearsing with band members which included the Tennessee Three and Carl Perkins, it was then off to Folsom, where Cash would performed for around 2,000 inmates. Among the songs he performed included “Cocaine Blues”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, and “25 Minutes to Go”. Also featured in the concert was June Carter, whom Cash would marry later in the year. They did two duets including “Jackson”.
The album At Folsom Prison, was mastered in four months, and released in May 1968. Initially, Columbia had little interest in promoting the album, but that didn’t stop it from peaking in the top twenty on the pop charts (while topping the country album charts). In addition to being certified gold by year’s end, the album had also received critical acclaim at the time of its release. And the years went on, At Folsom Prison is still being revered as one of the most notable live albums of all time, as it went through two special reissues (including a CD-DVD set), a 2003 certification of triple-platinum status by the R.I.A.A., and of course, the many heralds of being one of the greatest albums of all time, in the worlds of both country and pop.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Johnny Cash, inducted in 1992.