The Untold Story of Johnny Cash and His Wifes Turbulent Relationship

The Untold Story of Johnny Cash and His Wifes Turbulent Relationship

Wife Marriage Date Divorce Date Reason for Divorce
Vivian Liberto August 7, 1954 1966 Johnny’s infidelity and drug abuse
June Carter Cash March 1, 1968 September 12, 2003 Johnny’s continued drug abuse and infidelity
Kathleen Cash March 24, 1970 Divorced in 1976, remarried in 1978, and divorced again in 1991 Johnny’s drug abuse and violent behavior


Cash’s first marriage was to Vivian Liberto in 1954. They had four daughters together but their marriage was not without its problems. Cash struggled with addiction issues and spent long periods away from home on tour or filming movies. This put a strain on their relationship which ultimately ended in divorce after thirteen years of marriage.

  • Johnny Cash: Introduction
  • Turbulent Relationship with His Wife
  • Their First Marriage to Vivian Liberto
  • Addiction Issues & Long Periods Away from Home
  • Strain on Their Relationship & Divorce After Thirteen Years of Marriage

The early years of Johnny Cash’s life

Cash began playing guitar and writing songs as a teenager. He enlisted in the Air Force after graduating high school but was honorably discharged just three years later due to a knee injury. After leaving the military, he moved to Memphis and started performing with fellow musicians including Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

  • Began Playing Guitar & Writing Songs as Teenager
  • Enlisted in Air Force After Graduating High School
  • Honorably Discharged Due to Knee Injury
  • Moved to Memphis & Started Performing With Fellow Musicians Including Elvis Presley & Jerry Lee Lewis.

The women in Johnny Cash’s life

Another woman who played an important role in Johnny Cash’s life was June Carter Cash. The two met while touring together in the late 1950s but did not begin their romantic relationship until many years later. They eventually married in 1968 and remained together until June’s death in May 2003.

  • June Carter Cash (Singer-Songwriter & Wife of Johnny Cash)
  • The Two Met While Touring Together in Late 1950s
  • Began Romantic Relationship Many Years Later
  • Married In 1968 & Remained Together Until June’s Death In May 2003

Vivian Liberto, Johnny’s first wife, also deserves mention here as she was married to him during some of the most formative years of his career. Though they ultimately divorced due to infidelity issues on both sides, Vivian still remained an important figure throughout much of Johnny’s early career.

  • Vivian Liberto (Johnny’s First Wife)

The beginning of Johnny Cash and Vivian Liberto’s relationship

The couple exchanged hundreds of letters during this time which are now part of the Johnny Cash archives. In one letter to Vivian, Johnny wrote “You’re my angel come to lead me through this world”.

  • Couple Exchanged Hundreds of Letters During This Time Which Are Now Part Of The Johnny Cash Archives

After being discharged from the military, Johnny returned home and married Vivian on August 7, 1954. Their first daughter Rosanne was born just four months later.

  • Johnny Returned Home From Military Service & Married Vivian On August 7th 1954
  • Their First Daughter Rosanne Was Born Just Four Months Later

The first meeting

Their relationship began as a long-distance one since Johnny was still serving in the military. However, they kept in touch through letters and phone calls until he was discharged three years later. After leaving the military, Cash moved to Memphis where he started pursuing his music career while still corresponding with Vivian.

  • Long-Distance Relationship Due To Military Service
  • Kep In Touch Through Letters & Phone Calls
  • Cash Moved To Memphis To Pursue His Music Career While Corresponding With Vivian

Falling in love

Their relationship was not without its challenges, including Johnny’s ongoing struggles with addiction and infidelity issues. However, through it all, they remained devoted to one another and their love story has become legendary.

  • Ongoing Struggles With Addiction & Infidelity Issues
  • Devoted To One Another Despite Challenges

The challenges of a military relationship

In addition to these general challenges, there were also specific issues that arose for Johnny and Vivian:

  • Cash’s addiction issues: While he was serving in Germany, Cash began using amphetamines regularly. This put even more strain on their already difficult relationship.

All of these factors contributed to the breakdown of their marriage. However, it’s important to remember that many military relationships do survive these challenges – it just takes a lot of hard work, commitment, and support from family and friends.

The turmoil of Johnny Cash and Vivian Liberto’s marriage

In addition to these major issues, there were also smaller day-to-day struggles that contributed to the downfall of their relationship. For example:

  • Differing Views on Religion: Johnny was very religious while Vivian was not as devout, which caused tension between them.
  • Vivian’s Dislike for Life On The Road: She found it difficult dealing with life on the road and often resented having to move around so frequently for her husband’s career.

All of these factors combined ultimately led to the end of their marriage after thirteen years together. However, despite everything they went through together, it is clear that both Johnny and Vivian still cared deeply about each other even after they divorced.

Johnny’s infidelity

In addition to his drug problems and extramarital affairs, Johnny also struggled with alcohol addiction. This caused further strain on his relationships, including with second wife June Carter Cash.

  • Johhny Struggled With Alcohol Addiction
  • This Caused Further Strain On His Relationships Including Second Wife June Carter Cash

Vivian’s struggles with addiction

Vivian’s struggles with addiction undoubtedly added to the difficulties of their relationship. It’s likely that both parties were dealing with the stress of fame and touring while also trying to cope with their own personal demons.

  • Vivian’s Struggles With Addiction Added To Difficulties Of Their Relationship

The impact of Vivian’s struggles on the marriage is not entirely clear but it may have played a role in contributing towards its ultimate breakdown. Nevertheless, despite any issues they had during their marriage, Vivian remained an important figure throughout much of Johnny’s early career.

The strain of being in the public eye

In addition to his personal struggles, Cash also faced criticism from the media and some fans who disapproved of his music or lifestyle choices. Despite this, he continued to perform and record music until his death in 2003.

  • Criticism From Media & Some Fans Due To Music/Lifestyle Choices
  • Continued Performing & Recording Until Death In 2003

Cash’s legacy continues today through his music and influence on other artists. His ability to connect with audiences on a deeply emotional level is still felt by millions around the world.

  • Cash’s Legacy Through Music & Influence On Other Artists
  • Ability To Connect With Audiences On Deeply Emotional Level

The end of Johnny Cash and Vivian Liberto’s marriage

The end of Johnny Cash and Vivian Liberto’s marriage was marked by infidelity on both sides. Cash’s drug addiction and long periods away from home had taken a toll on their relationship, leading to his affair with June Carter.

Despite attempts at reconciliation, including a move to California in hopes of improving their relationship, the couple ultimately decided to divorce in 1966 after thirteen years of marriage. The split was difficult for both parties involved, especially for their four daughters who were caught in the middle of the turmoil.

  • Infidelity on Both Sides
  • Cash’s Drug Addiction & Long Periods Away From Home Took A Toll On Their Relationship
  • Affair With June Carter
  • Attempts At Reconciliation Including Move To California
  • Divorced In 1966 After Thirteen Years Of Marriage

The separation

Vivian later said that she felt like she had lost her husband to his addiction issues and that he became a different person during this time. Despite the pain they both went through during their separation, Johnny would go on to become one of the most iconic country singers of all time while Vivian would start anew with her own life.

  • Vivian Felt Like She Lost Her Husband To Addiction Issues

The divorce

Their divorce became very public, with rumors swirling about affairs and other scandals. This put an incredible amount of pressure on both Johnny and Vivian, as they tried to navigate their way through the end of their marriage while also dealing with intense media scrutiny.

  • Rumors Swirling About Affairs & Other Scandals
  • Incredible Amount Of Pressure On Both Johnny And Vivian
  • Trying To Navigate Their Way Through The End Of Their Marriage While Dealing With Intense Media Scrutiny.

The impact on their children

Their eldest daughter Rosanne has spoken publicly about the difficulties of growing up with famous parents whose marriage was often in turmoil. She also wrote a memoir entitled “Composed” that delves into her experiences as the daughter of Johnny Cash and Vivian Liberto.

  • Rosanne Spoke Publicly About Difficulties Growing Up With Famous Parents Whose Marriage Was Often In Turmoil
  • Rosanne Wrote A Memoir Entitled “Composed”

Cindy Cash has also discussed how her father’s addiction issues impacted her childhood. She described how difficult it was to watch him struggle with substance abuse while also trying to maintain a successful music career.

  • Cindy Discussed How Her Father’s Addiction Issues Impacted Her Childhood

Johnny Cash’s relationship with June Carter

Their marriage had a profound impact on Johnny’s life and career, as it brought stability to his often tumultuous personal life. June served as a positive influence on him, helping him overcome his addiction issues and inspiring some of his most iconic songs.

  • Marriage Brought Stability To Johnny’s Personal Life
  • June Served As A Positive Influence & Helped Him Overcome Addiction Issues

In addition to being partners in love, Johnny and June also frequently performed together onstage throughout their careers. Their chemistry was undeniable, leading to unforgettable duets such as “Jackson” and “If I Were A Carpenter.”

  • Frequently Performed Together Onstage Throughout Careers
  • Unforgettable Duets Include “Jackson” & “If I Were A Carpenter”

The early years of their friendship

The two remained close friends throughout the 1960s and often performed together on stage. There were rumors of a romantic relationship between them, but both parties denied it at the time. It wasn’t until several years later that they finally admitted their love for each other.

  • Remained Close Friends Throughout The 1960s
  • Often Performed Together On Stage
  • Rumors Of Romantic Relationship But Both Parties Denied At The Time
  • Admitted Love For Each Other Several Years Later

Their friendship blossomed into a beautiful love story that lasted until June’s death in May 2003. Johnny wrote many songs about her, including “Ring of Fire” which he famously proposed with during a live performance in front of thousands of fans.

  • Their Friendship Blossomed Into A Beautiful Love Story
  • Lasted Until June’s Death In May 2003
  • Johnny Wrote Many Songs About Her Including “Ring Of Fire”


The beginning of their romantic relationship

Over the years, they would continue to see each other on tour and even collaborated musically from time-to-time. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that their friendship started turning into something more.

  • Saw Each Other on Tour & Collaborated Musically from Time-To-Time

In his autobiography “Cash,” Johnny wrote about how he finally realized his feelings for June while onstage performing in Canada in 1968. He proposed to her soon after and they were married just a few weeks later.

  • Cash Realized His Feelings for June While Onstage Performing In Canada In 1968
  • Proposed Soon After & Married Just A Few Weeks Later

The impact on Johnny’s music and personal life

On a personal level, Johnny struggled with addiction issues throughout much of his life. He was arrested several times for drug-related offenses but eventually overcame these struggles thanks to the support of June Carter Cash and other loved ones.

  • Cash Struggled With Addiction Issues Throughout Much Of His Life
  • Was Arrested Several Times For Drug-Related Offenses
  • Overcame These Struggles Thanks To Support From Loved Ones

In addition to his musical career, Johnny was also an actor who appeared in several films throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He was known for playing characters who were similar to himself – rough around the edges but ultimately good-hearted individuals with a strong sense of morality.

  • Cash Was Also An Actor Who Appeared In Several Films Throughout The 1960s And 1970s
  • Known For Playing Characters Similar To Himself – Rough Around Edges But Good-Hearted Individuals With Strong Sense Of Morality

The final years of Johnny Cash’s life

In 2003, Johnny’s beloved wife June passed away from complications following heart surgery. Her death left him devastated but also inspired him to create some of the most moving songs of his career.

  • The Death of June Carter Cash (Complications Following Heart Surgery)

Cash himself passed away just four months after June’s death on September 12, 2003. He had been hospitalized due to complications from diabetes and died at age 71.

  • Johhny Cash’s Death (September 12th, 2003)

The death of June Carter

Their marriage had been a strong one, but as with any relationship, it was not without its challenges. In the early days of their relationship, both were still married to other people, which created some turmoil. However, they eventually got together and built a life together that lasted decades.

  • Their Marriage Was Strong But Not Without Challenges
  • In Early Days Of Relationship They Were Still Married To Other People Which Created Some Turmoil
  • They Eventually Built A Life Together That Lasted Decades

Cash himself passed away just four months after June’s death. It is believed that his health rapidly declined following her passing as he struggled to come to terms with life without her by his side.

  • Cash Passed Away Just Four Months After June’s Death
  • His Health Rapidly Declined Following Her Passing
  • He Struggled To Come To Terms With Life Without Her By His Side

Johnny’s declining health

Cash continued to perform despite his declining health but eventually had to cancel many of his concerts due to illness. He underwent heart surgery in 1988 and again in 2003 following complications from diabetes. In September 2003, he passed away at the age of 71 due to respiratory failure.

  • Continued Performing Despite His Declining Health
  • Canceled Many Concerts Due To Illness
  • Underwent Heart Surgery Twice – In 1988 & Again in 2003 Following Complications From Diabetes
  • Passed Away At The Age Of 71 Due To Respiratory Failure In September Of That Same Year (2003)

The legacy of Johnny Cash and his relationship with his wives

Cash’s turbulent relationship with his wives has often overshadowed his musical achievements. While he had four daughters with Vivian Liberto, he married June Carter later in life and remained devoted to her until her death in 2003. The love story between Johnny and June is legendary, inspiring books, movies, and countless songs.

  • Turbulent Relationship With His Wives Often Overshadowed His Musical Achievements
  • Four Daughters With Vivian Liberto
  • The Legendary Love Story Between Johnny And June Remained Devoted Until Her Death In 2003

In conclusion, Johnny Cash’s personal relationships were complicated and marked by struggles with addiction, infidelity issues on both sides during his first marriage which ultimately ended up being divorced after thirteen years of marriage. However, despite these challenges, Cash’s musical legacy continues to inspire new generations while providing insight into the human condition that transcends time.


The story of Johnny Cash and his wife’s turbulent relationship is a complex one that has been largely untold until now. By exploring their early years together, the impact of addiction on their lives, and the enduring legacy of Johnny Cash’s music, we can gain new insights into this iconic figure and the people who influenced him along the way.

  • Turbulent Relationship of Johnny Cash & His Wife: A Complex Story Largely Untold Until Now

In conclusion, Johnny Cash was more than just a musician – he was a cultural icon whose impact continues to be felt today. By examining various aspects of his life including his marriages, struggles with addiction, musical influences and achievements we can better understand what made him such a unique figure in American culture.

  • Johnny Cash Was More Than Just A Musician: He Was Cultural Icon Whose Impact Continues To Be Felt Today

The impact of Johnny Cash’s personal life on his music

Cash’s relationship with June Carter was also a major source of inspiration for him. Many of their duets together tackled issues related to love and marriage, including “Jackson” and “If I Were a Carpenter”.

  • Relationship With June Carter As Major Source Of Inspiration For Him
  • Duets Together Tackled Issues Related To Love And Marriage: “Jackson” & “If I Were A Carpenter”

In addition to exploring romantic relationships in his music, Cash also addressed social justice issues such as poverty and prison reform. Songs like “Folsom Prison Blues” are some examples where he talked about these topics. Cash was known for taking risks through his music by singing about controversial subjects which made him even more popular among fans.

  • Social Justice Issues Also Addressed By Johnny Cash Through His Music Such As Poverty And Prison Reform
  • “Folsom Prison Blues” Is An Example Where He Talks About These Topics
  • Cash Known For Taking Risks Through Singing About Controversial Subjects Which Made Him Even More Popular Among Fans

The importance of understanding the complexities of relationships in the public eye.

Additionally, understanding these complex relationships can help us to recognize and address harmful stereotypes about gender roles and expectations within romantic partnerships. For example, some might view June Carter Cash as a passive figure who supported her husband’s career from behind-the-scenes. However, this narrative ignores her own successful career as a singer-songwriter and obscures the reality of their equal partnership.

  • Recognize & Address Harmful Stereotypes About Gender Roles & Expectations Within Romantic Partnerships

In short, exploring stories like Johnny Cash’s can provide fascinating insights into celebrity culture while also reminding us of the complexity and nuance inherent to all human relationships – regardless of whether or not they take place in front of millions.

FAQ on ‘The Untold Story of Johnny Cash and His Wifes Turbulent Relationship’

Q: How did Johnny Cash and Vivian Liberto meet?

A: Johnny Cash met Vivian Liberto at a roller skating rink in San Antonio, Texas in July 1951.

Q: What caused the turbulence in Johnny and Vivian’s relationship?

A: The turbulence in Johnny and Vivian’s relationship was caused by various factors such as infidelity, drug addiction, and the pressures of fame.

Q: How did June Carter come into Johnny’s life?

A: June Carter came into Johnny’s life when they met on tour in the early 1960s. They became close friends and later fell in love while both were still married to other people.

Q: Did Johnny Cash ever reconcile with his first wife, Vivian?

A: No, Johnny Cash and Vivian Liberto divorced in 1966 and never reconciled.