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Tommy Cash: A Tribute to My Brother


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Scott Ross [reporting]: Were you musical?

Tommy Cash: My mother was. My mother played the piano in the Baptist church and around the house, and she had an old guitar that she would strum from time to time. I guess if we have any talent in this family, it all came from 'Mama Cash.'

The youngest of seven children, Tommy cash grew up in brother, Johnny’s shadow.

Ross: When John began to have success and signed with Sun Records, how did you view that then? How did the rest of the family view that seeing him come into his own musically?

Cash: Well, we were all thrilled. His first record was a hit. Hey Porter and Cry, Cry, Cry in June of 1955. But it not only changed Johnny’s life, it changed our life as well.

Ross: In what way?

Cash: People stopped asking me about my girlfriends and my cotton pickin' and my basketball, and they started asking about Johnny. How’s Johnny been? Do you see him? Does he come to your house? When is his next record coming out? That’s the way it changed us.

In spite of Johnny’s success, Tommy set out to make a name for himself. He was quite an athlete, a state-champion basketball player and soon after high school, pursued a music career too. Still, there was more to the Cash family than talent.

Ross: Was there an active, working faith in your family?

Cash: Oh, absolutely. I was raised in a Christian family, and I wouldn’t take anything in the world for that today.

Ross: And the gospel music, is there a story with that?

Cash: I became a Christian when I was 12-years-old. I told mama that something was happening to me. She said, 'Son, you’re under conviction.' I told her I felt God’s presence. I was picking cotton, and I felt this great sensation come over me, and it’s something I’ll never forget for as long as I live. I knew I’d been saved.

Tommy is quick to admit that his commitment to Jesus Christ faded as he moved into his music career, and he began to enjoy what the world had to offer. At the same time, big brother, Johnny had his own problems.

Ross: When John got into the drug situation, he said that drugs were a 'demon called deception.' How did you guys handle that?

Cash: It scared us all to death. I thought he was going to die. At times, I thought he wouldn’t live another week. I had a problem with alcohol myself. But I stopped drinking 20 years ago.

Ross: How bad did it get?

Cash: It got to the point to where it was controlling me. I never knew when I was going to drink, and I never knew how much I was going to drink. I didn’t want alcohol in my life anymore so I quit, cold turkey, in March of 1987.

Ross: Was prayer a part of that?

Cash: It was. I asked God to remove the craving for alcohol. And He did. He took it away.

Tommy was now sober, and soon Johnny got on the road to recovery. Today, even though Johnny is gone, Tommy still sings the music that says 'Cash.'

Cash: I’m doing the Johnny Cash Tribute Show. It’s my way of showing my love and respect for him and honoring him, his music, and his life.

Ross: What is your heart’s desire? The Scripture says, 'If you delight yourself in the Lord, He’ll give you the desires of your heart.' What are those desires?

Cash: I don’t know if there is any particular thing that I want to accomplish other than I want to die sober, and I hope it’s a long time from now. I’m always going to serve God as long as I live.