The evangelist originally sought out the singer for the sake of his son.
Billy Graham and Johnny Cash were the best of friends, mutual confessors, and fishing buddies. Their wives, Ruth Bell and June Carter, were prayer partners. The two men could sit for hours in the same room without saying a word—Billy working on a book and Johnny on his songs. Once in a while, Johnny would interrupt and try out a song on Billy or ask a question about the Bible. At mealtimes, the families would gather to pray, sing, and eat. Usually the subject moved quickly to family and friends, problems and challenges. Johnny always had a list of friends he wanted Billy to call, while Billy would ask Johnny for advice and prayer for his loved ones.
Billy and Johnny’s connection originated with Billy’s desire to connect with his son Franklin and the boy’s teenage peers. Franklin says that even as a little boy, “I loved Johnny Cash’s music.” He recalls that in 1969, Billy called the governor of Tennessee to ask for help in setting up an appointment with Johnny. Billy was observing his son slip into smoking, drinking, drugs, and girls. Franklin left one school after another, sometimes after being expelled. In his autobiography, Just as I Am, Billy explained that Franklin believed he was successfully hiding these things from his dad—“or so he thought,” Billy wrote.
Both father and son later agreed that Billy had approached Johnny with the goal of connecting with Franklin. “My favorite song was ‘Ring of Fire,’” says Franklin. “Father wanted to connect to me by connecting to Johnny Cash.” The elder Graham framed the matter in more global terms while visiting the singer’s home near Nashville.
Johnny told Country Music …Continue reading…