Married in a Fever: June and Johnny Cash's Country Love Story
Celebrating the legendary couple, 50 years after they said 'I do.'
Michael Ochs Archives
Among the great love stories of our time, Johnny and June Carter Cash’s romance continues to strike a chord in the hearts of many. The two country legends first crossed paths backstage at the Grand Ole Opry in 1956, but at the time Johnny was raising four children with his wife Vivian Liberto and June had a child of her own with honky-tonk singer Carl Smith.
Twelve years and three divorces later, Johnny finally proposed to June during a live performance in London, Ontario on February 22, 1968. They were married a week later on March 1 and stayed together for 35 years until June’s death in May 2003, followed by Johnny’s four months later.
In a 1994 birthday letter written to June, voted the greatest love letter of all time in a 2015 poll commissioned by Beagle Street, Johnny wrote to his wife, “You’re the object of my desire, the No. 1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.”
Take a look back at their timeless love story, photographed through the years.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum via Getty Images1958Johnny and June with country singer Justin Tubb. According to June, she first heard of Johnny through tourmate Elvis Presley, who would drag her into cafes across the South in order to hear Johnny on the jukebox.Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty ImagesMay 3, 1968The newlyweds photographed in a London park, a few weeks after their wedding.Hulton Archive/Getty Images1968Johnny and June leave through the front gate of Kansas State Prison following a performance for the prisoners. Johnny was a vocal supporter of prisoners' rights, playing unpaid gigs in prisons across the U.S. throughout his long career.
ABC Photo Archives/ABC Photo Archives/Getty ImagesMarch 17, 1969The couple pose during a photoshoot for "The Johnny Cash Show." The weekly variety program, which ran from 1969 to 1971, featured regular appearances from the Carter Family, as well as popular music acts of the time.ABC Photo Archives/ABC Photo Archives/Getty ImagesJuly 12, 1969Johnny and June share a laugh backstage during a taping of "The Johnny Cash Show."ABC Photo Archives/ABC Photo Archives/Getty ImagesSeptember 6, 1969A performance from "The Johnny Cash Show."
Michael Rougier/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images1969Johnny and June pictured at their 4.5-acre lakefront home in Hendersonville, Tennessee.Express/Getty ImagesSeptember 1, 1971The couple pose with their 18-month-old son John in Glasgow, Scotland. John is the only child the couple had together. His half-siblings include Roseanne, Kathy, Cindy, and Tara Cash from Johnny's marriage to Liberto, and Carlene Carter and Rosie Nix Adams from June's previous marriages.Gijsbert Hanekroot/RedfernsFebruary 26, 1972Caught laughing in the back seat of a limousine after a performance in Amsterdam.
Bettmann/Bettmann ArchiveMay 1, 1973Three-year-old John becomes the youngest person to make a Las Vegas nightclub debut while performing onstage with his dad.Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images1976Family portrait (from left to right: John, Rosanne, Johnny, June, and Carlene).Bettmann/Bettmann ArchiveJune 14, 1977Johnny, June, and John visit President Carter and the First Lady at the White House following a performance by Johnny at the annual Flag Day celebration.
CBS Photo Archive/CBS via Getty ImagesJune 1, 1978At home in Tennessee.Robin Platzer/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty ImagesJanuary 15, 1992Johnny celebrates with John, Carlene, Rosanne, and June after being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Speaking at June's funeral in 2003, Roseanne said of her supportive stepmother, “If being a wife were a corporation, June would have been a CEO. It was her most treasured role.”R. Diamond/WireImageDecember 10, 2002Johnny and June at their home in Jamaica. The couple spent many of their last years together in the Jamaican mansion, known to locals as Cinnamon Hill. Asked by "Vanity Fair" in 1997 to describe his idea of paradise, Johnny simply replied, "This morning, with her, having coffee.”