Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Johnny Cash's First Performance / Johnny Cash and Tennessee Two

Marker ID:  
Location: 1015 Cooper Street, Memphis, TN
County: Shelby
Coordinates: N 35° 7.083    W 089° 59.47
  35.11805    -89.99116666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


Johnny Cash's First Performance

The singer-songwriter who became known as "The Man in Black," Johnny Cash launched his music career on this site in December 1954. Working as a door-to-door appliance salesman, Cash teamed up with guitarist Luther Perkins and bassist Marshal Grant, two auto mechanics employed by Automobile Sales, 309 Union. Often they rehearsed in the repair shop. A postman, who was a member of Galloway Methodist Church, overheard them and urged his wife to invite them to perform at the church. As a member of the Pioneer Class, a women's bible study group, she was organizing a missionary fund-raiser. Cash's group accepted the invitation, performing a mix of songs. Among them was one of Cash's own compositions--"Belshazzar." It referred to the Babylonian king in the Book of Daniel who saw God's handwriting on the wall and a message of doom. Other songs included, "Peace in the Valley," "Walking the Floor Over You," and several Christmas Hymns."

Johnny Cash and Tennessee Two

After that first performance Johnny Cash and his backup musicians, Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant, began calling themselves "The Tennessee Three." They were trying but failing to build a lineup of pop and country tunes. In response, Cash wrote several songs, including, "Hey Porter" and "Cry, Cry, Cry," that Sun Records released in 1955 under the name "Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two." Soon to follow were three of Cash's lasting hits, "Folsom Prison Blues," "Big River," and "I Walk the Line." After his Sun contract expired in 1958, Cash signed with another label and moved away from Memphis. His music career lasted until his death in 2003. Galloway Methodist Church traced its history to 1908. Its building, designed in Romanesque Revival style, dated from 1925. The Galloway congregation disbanded in 2008.

[Photo maybe viewed in HMDB.org]

Erected by The Visible Music College,
Friends of Johnny Cash and Shelby County Historical Commission.