Johnny Cash Revisited

Rick McKay

As a small child Rick McKay's first interest in music came from listening to his parent’s record collection. It was a pretty diverse selection of pop and country music with a few old time classics thrown in, but two names stood out. Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash, and of the two, it was Cash who would have the biggest influence on a very young Rick with no idea yet that his future lie in the music industry.

The albums that Rick wore out first were “Ring Of Fire: The Best Of Johnny Cash” and “Johnny Cash: Live at Folsom Prison”. Rick would sing along endlessly and even copy the dialog in between the songs on the live album.

They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery and Rick would freely admit that just about everything he has achieved vocally and as a musician began with his close study of the styles and sounds of his favourite rock ‘n’ roll and country artists. Before long he had devoloped an uncanny ability to “mimic” his favourite singers, and later on as he began learning guitar, was often mistaken for his idols Duane Eddy and Hank Marvin by neigbours who refused to believe that he wasn’t just playing his records very loud in his bedroom.

Jump forward to 1987 and Rick’s first proper “role” was that of a young Elvis Presley in “Forever Elvis”. It was a great experience, but Rick found that following his departure from the show, getting recognized for his own abilities was made difficult by the fact that venues only wanted to book “Rick as Elvis”. Because of this, Rick shied away from impersonating his idols on stage with a couple of exceptions. He could never resist dropping the tone of his voice and drawling his way through any Johnny Cash song he performed.

In 1998, Rodney Crowell, another of Rick’s all-time favourite songwriters and performers, wrote a song called “I Walk The Line (revisited) It told the story of Crowell going to see Johnny Cash with his Father and Grandfather and how it had had a massive effect on him. Crowell later met and married Johnny’s daughter Rosanne. Life is strange huh?

When Rick’s audiences first heard him performing both Crowell’s and Cash’s vocal parts in the song in his show the positive reaction was instantaneous. Since then Rick has rarely played a show that didn’t include the song alongside other Johnny Cash classics.

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