This day in 2003, the famed “The Man in Black” Johnny Cash, who became a towering figure in American music with such hits as “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Walk the Line” and “A Boy Named Sue,” died at the age of 71. In a statement issued by Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Cash’s longtime manager and friend, Lou Robin, said, “Johnny died due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in respiratory failure.”
He noted that Cash died at the hospital at 1 am ET and added, “I hope that friends and fans of Johnny will pray for the Cash family to find comfort during this very difficult time.” The stunning news came as Cash had been released from the hospital the previous Wednesday after a two-week stay for treatment of an unspecified stomach ailment. Some reports circulated that he had been suffering from pancreatitis. The illness caused him to miss the MTV Music awards, where he had been nominated in seven categories and won the trophy for Best Cinematography. In his later years, Cash had battled a disease of the nervous system, autonomic neuropathy, and pneumonia. His beloved wife, June, had passed four months earlier.