Fire Destroys Johnny Cash's Longtime Lakeside Tennessee Home

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Johnny Cash's lakeside home, a
showcase where he wrote much of his famous music and entertained
U.S. presidents, music royalty and visiting fans, was destroyed by
fire on Tuesday.
Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash, lived in the
13,880-square-foot home from the late 1960s until their deaths in
2003.
"So many prominent things and prominent people in American
history took place in that house - everyone from Billy Graham to
Bob Dylan went into that house," said singer Marty Stuart, who
lives next door and was married to Cash's daughter, Cindy, in the
1980s.
Stuart said the man who designed the house, Nashville builder
Braxton Dixon, was "the closest thing this part of the country had
to Frank Lloyd Wright."
When Cash moved there, the road was a quiet country lane that
skirts Old Hickory Lake. Kris Kristofferson, then an aspiring
songwriter, once landed a helicopter on Cash's lawn to pitch him a
song. Roy Orbison was his next-door neighbor for a while.
The landmark video for Cash's song "Hurt" was shot inside the
house.
"It was a sanctuary and a fortress for him," Stuart said.
"There was a lot of writing that took place there."
Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys lives on the same road as
Cash. "Maybe it's the good Lord's way to make sure that it was
only Johnny's house," Sterban said.
The property was purchased by Barry Gibb, a former member of the
Bee Gees, in January 2006. Gibb and his wife, Linda, had said they
planned to restore the home on Old Hickory Lake and hoped to write
songs there. They had not yet moved in to the home, which they
bought for a reported $2.3 million.
Dixon built the three-story house in 1967 for his own family,
but Cash fell in love with it. Dixon was reluctant to sell, but
Cash kept after him.
"It was a very, very unusual contemporary structure," said
Cash's brother, Tommy Cash. "It was built with stone and wood and
all kinds of unusual materials, from marble to old barn wood. I
don't think there was a major blueprint. I think the builder was
building it the way he wanted it to look."
The younger Cash said many holidays and family get-togethers
were spent at the house. And while Johnny and June also owned a
house in Jamaica and a second house in Tennessee, they considered
this one to be their home.
"Johnny and June lived there the entire time they were
married," Tommy Cash said. "It was the only house they lived in
together until they both passed on."
The fire, in this suburb about 20 miles northeast of downtown
Nashville, started around 1:40 p.m. Fire trucks arrived within five
minutes, but the house was already engulfed in flames,
Hendersonville Fire Chief Jamie Steele said.
Just a few hours later, there was almost nothing left except
stone chimneys.
The cause is unknown, but Steele said the flames spread quickly
because construction workers had recently applied a flammable wood
preservative to the exterior of the house. The preservative was
also being applied inside the house.
No workers were injured, but one firefighter was slightly hurt
while fighting the fire, Steele said.
Cash's long career, which began in the 1950s, spanned rock 'n'
roll, folk and country. His hits included "Ring of Fire,"
"Folsom Prison Blues" and "I Walk the Line."
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On the Net:
Johnny Cash: http://www.johnnycash.com/
Barry Gibb: http://www.barrygibb.com/
--
Associated Press writer John Gerome in Nashville contributed to
this report.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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