25 Years ago this week… April 26, 1994: One of my favorite albums came out. Johnny Cash, in his first collaboration with Rick Rubin, released American Recordings. There were ultimately six of these — American Recordings I through VI. For me, they did an incredible service for demonstrating how much talent and “content” Johnny Cash still had to offer at the end of his long career and also how much foresight and influence a talented producer (Rubin) can bring to music.
Johnny Cash: American Recordings; American Recordings 9-45520-1 (12”, 33rpm, original pressing); Cover photo by Andrew Earl
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Although taken a few years after American I’s release, this Annie Leibovitz photograph of Rick Rubin in his Los Angeles’ home living room (where many of the Cash “American” tracks were recorded) captured my imagination at a 2005 exhibition at the Fahey-Klein gallery entitled “American Music”.
20x24” Chromogenic print of photo by Annie Leibovtiz: Rick Rubin, Los Angeles, 2001 Annie Leibovitz; #6 /40, Signed and numbered recto.
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Finally, in 1998, “American II - Unchained” won the Grammy for Best Country Album — yet wasn’t accepted (i.e., played) by the Nashville country music “establishment”. Rubin’s American Recordings label took out this full-page ad in Billboard Magazine.
11x17” Poster of photo by Jim Marshall: Johnny Cash, San Quentin Prison, 1969 Jim Marshall
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