By Quint Qualls and Peter Cooper, The Tennessean
NASHVILLE -- Roger Johansson flew from Sweden to Nashville for the grand opening of the Johnny Cash Museum.
was among the first 300 people to visit the museum within the first
four hours after it opened Thursday. Fans hailed from Ireland, Sweden,
Michigan and California to see the clothes Cash wore during his
performances, as well as some of his records, guitars and pictures.
thing is that the music is so genuine, you can feel it," Johansson
said. "You believe the song when he sings it. It brings everyone from
all over the world together."
The museum's grand opening
represented a major moment for Cash fans. Johnny and his wife, June
Carter Cash, died months apart in 2003 in Nashville. His house burned
down in 2007, leaving fans without any real destination to visit,
according to Shannon Miller, who founded the museum with her husband,
"Elvis has Graceland, but there was really nothing left
anymore for us," Shannon Miller said. "We really needed to bring it back
to Tennessee. We needed to have something for all of the fans. We're
just really happy to be able to tell the fans there's a place to come
celebrate Johnny Cash."
The museum, on Third Avenue in downtown
Nashville, features a treasure trove of Cash relics acquired through
various donors and collectors. Bill Miller, a close friend of the
Cashes, donated his own expansive collection of Cash-related rarities,
which he had been piecing together one item at a time for four decades.
"Every artifact here helps to tell the story, and this needed to be in Nashville," Bill Miller said.
a media walk-through in late April, Cash siblings Joanne Cash Yates and
Tommy Cash smiled to see their brother's old Martin guitar with a
folded dollar bill stuck through the strings: In the 1950s, before he
had a drummer, Cash used a dollar bill to create a percussive effect
when he strummed the instrument.
There was a display filled with
family photos and artifacts from the Cashes' hardscrabble 1940s days in
Dyess, Ark. There was a radio like the one the family used to listen to
the "Grand Ole Opry." There was Johnny's Future Farmers of America card,
and a school yearbook page.
Cathy Cash-Tittle became emotional upon seeing her parents' marriage
certificate for the first time. Others in the family gasped to see a
stone wall that was part of Johnny and June's Hendersonville home before
it burned. There were tin cups from Folsom Prison, where Cash recorded a
classic album. There were stage outfits, awards, gold and platinum
albums, and a remarkable collection of instruments from Cash, The Carter
Family and supporting musicians Luther Perkins, Marshall Grant and W.S.
"It's just unbelievable," said Tommy Cash, who
followed his brother into the music industry and recorded hits including
"Six White Horses." "I'm amazed at what's here. People from all over
the world will come and see this."
Judy Morris, a Northern Ireland
native on a music tour of Tennessee, said Thursday that Cash's music is
timeless and resonates with all ages.
"I think people can just
really connect to him, and I think a lot of young people can connect to
his rebelliousness," Morris said.
For more information on the Johnny Cash Museum, visit http://johnnycashmuseum.net.