Country Flashback: Johnny Cash Recorded His Iconic Hit “Ring of Fire” on This Day in 1963

On this day (March 25) in 1963, Johnny Cash recorded “Ring of Fire.” The song went on to become one of Cash’s biggest hits. More than that, more than six decades later, it is still hailed as one of the greatest country songs of all time. However, Cash didn’t write the song nor was he the first to record it.

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Cash released “Ring of Fire” on April 19, 1963. It went to the top of the country start and stayed there for seven weeks. Later that year, he used it as the title track for his greatest hits album, Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash. The album consisted of his biggest hits released on Columbia Records between 1958 and 1963. Today, the song remains one of Cash’s signature songs alongside “Folsom Prison Blues” and “A Boy Named Sue.”

[RELATED: The (Lightly Disputed) Meaning Behind “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash]

June Carter Wrote “Ring of Fire” About Johnny Cash

Cash didn’t write “Ring of Fire.” Instead, his future wife June Carter co-penned the song with Merle Kilgore about her feelings for Cash. When she wrote the song, she and Cash were both married. However, they met at the Grand Ole Opry in 1956 and felt instant chemistry. Soon, they started touring together and their feelings for one another continued to grow stronger.

According to Songfacts, Carter wrote the song while driving around one night. She was worried about Cash’s extensive drug and alcohol abuse. At the same time, the fact that she found him irresistible frightened her. She wrote “There is no way to be in that kind of hell. No way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns.” That line later became “Ring of Fire.”

June’s sister Anita Carter was the first to record the song and did so under the title “(Love’s) Ring of Fire” in 1962. She included the song on her 1963 album Folk Songs Old and New. Cash reportedly waited to release his version of the song to give Carter’s a chance to chart.

Cash and Carter met in the late fifties and began working together soon after. In 1967, both stars were single once again. At that point, they were able to let the spark between them become an all-consuming blaze and they tied the knot in 1968. When the smoke cleared, Johnny and June emerged as one of the most iconic couples in country music history.

Featured Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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