Man in Black, The

The nickname of weather-worn country western singer Johnny Cash. Among his many accomplishments was a successful one-hour musical variety program THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW/ABC/1969-71.


The program featured renditions of such hit songs as “Folsom Prison Blues” and his classic”I Walk The Line.” Johnny Cash returned to TV on the short-lived musical variety show JOHNNY CASH AND FRIENDS/CBS 1976.

Johnny Cash also appeared during the holiday seasons on his annual Christmas specials which aired from 1976-1985.

Baby Boomers will remember that it was Johnny Cash who sang the opening theme song “The Ballad of Johnny Yuma” for the western adventure series THE REBEL/ABC/NBC/1959-62.

Born on February 26, 1932 in Kingsland, Arkansas, Johnny Cash, aka “The Man in Black” died on September 12, 2003 in Nashville, Tennessee. He was 71.

Note: Johnny Cash earned the music industry moniker “The Man in Black” because he always performed in a distinctive wardrobe of black clothing. In 1971, the singer-songwriter released an album entitled “Man in Black” that explains just why he always dresses in black.

“Man in Black” lyrics by Johnny Cash

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black
Why you never see bright colors on my back
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone
Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town
I wear it for the prisoner who is long paid for his crime
But is there because he’s a victim of the times

I wear the black for those who’ve never read
Or listened to the words that Jesus said
About the road to happiness through love and charity
Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me

Well, we’re doin’ mighty fine, I do suppose
In our streak of lightnin’ cars and fancy clothes
But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back
Up front there ought to be a Man In Black

I wear it for the sick and lonely old
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold
I wear the black in mournin’ for the lives that could have been
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men

And I wear it for the thousands who have died
Believin’ that the Lord was on their side
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died
Believin’ that we all were on their side

Well, there’s things that never will be right I know
And things need changin’ everywhere you go
But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right
You’ll never see me wear a suit of white

Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day
And tell the world that everything’s okay
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
Till things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black

“The Man in Black” was also the nickname Joe Kearns, the host of the radio program SUSPENSE/CBS/1942-1962.  He is perhaps best remembered as next-door neighbor George Wilson (“Mr. Wilson”) on the sitcom DENNIS THE MENACE/CBS/1959-1963. Kearns appeared on the show from 1959 until his death in 1962.

See also – “Johnny Cash Show” @ You Tube and “Man in Black” Song – Biography


Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Showbiz Nicknames, Uncategorized

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