Danny Robins lauds the prison-reform campaign of the late, great country singer, Johnny Cash, including the many unpaid concerts he played for inmates:
He played his first prison concert in 1957 at the Huntsville State Prison in Texas. Many more followed.The unique energy of these appearances was captured in 1968 on the At Folsom Prison recording. The album cemented Cash’s outlaw image and reignited his career, which had been floundering in the mid-60s as he battled drug addiction.
Columbia Records, which had only reluctantly agreed to Cash’s request to record at the prison and then half-heartedly marketed the release, was taken aback. But Cash had undeniably caught the public mood.
(Video: Johnny Cash sings “San Quentin” to inmates at San Quentin State Prison in CA)