On this day in 1968, Johnny Cash walked through the gates of Folsom State Prison in California and performed a show for the inmates. Accompanied by June Carter and Carl Perkins and the Tennessee Three, he recorded the performance for an album that would be released four months later. Despite little investment by his record label, the album At Folsom Prison became a hit in the U.S. It received rave reviews upon its release and has been acknowledged as one of the greatest albums of all time by several sources, including Rolling Stone, Country Music Television, Blender and Time.
In 2003, the album was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. The same year, At Folsom Prison was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipping more than three million units.
Revered Rock & Roll photographer Jim Marshall accompanied Cash to the Folsom State Prison show, as well as the San Quentin State Prison show a year later in 1969 and chronicled the events. He asked Cash to give him “a picture for the warden” during rehearsal and Cash’s response was captured in this iconic photo. Jim Marshall passed away last year, but you can still browse through his amazing photographs online at www.jimmarshallphotographyllc.com.
Here’s a clip from the 1969 San Quentin State Prison performance: