Johnny Cash had five kids — Rosanne, Kathy, Cindy, Tara and John Carter — and two stepchildren, Carlene and Rosie
Johnny Cash's musical legacy lives on through his family. Among Cash’s children and stepchildren — Rosanne, Kathy, Cindy, Tara, John Carter, Carlene and Rosie — all have had creative careers as musicians, actors and writers.
Cash had four daughters with his first wife, Vivian Liberto. They met in 1951 when she was 17 and he was 19 and in Air Force basic training in San Antonio, Texas. Shortly after, he deployed to Germany; when he was discharged in 1954, the couple wed and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where his career quickly took off.
Together, they had daughters Rosanne Cash in 1955, Kathy Cash in 1956, Cindy Cash in 1959 and Tara Cash in 1961, moving the family to Southern California in 1958 for more privacy. During this time, the singer struggled with the pressures of fame and developed an addiction to amphetamines. In 1956, he wrote “I Walk the Line” about his promise to Vivian that he would stay faithful on the road, but her fears had merit: she filed for divorce in 1966 amidst Cash’s addiction struggles and his rumored affair with country singer June Carter.
After Cash got clean, he married June in 1968. June already had two children of her own from previous relationships: daughters Carlene Carter and Rosie Carter Nix.
Related: Johnny Cash's Life in Photos
Cash and June welcomed their first and only child together, son John Carter Cash, in 1970, and lived outside Nashville in Hendersonville, Tennessee. June died in May 2003, and Cash died in September 2003.
While Cash's eldest daughter Rosanne described her childhood as "chaotic" to PEOPLE in 2019, she also called her father "the sweetest dad."
Here's everything to know about Johnny Cash's children.
Rosanne Cash, 68
Rosanne Cash was born on May 24, 1955, in Memphis. She’s a decorated musician who has released 15 albums and won four Grammy Awards, and is currently the Artist-in-Residence at New York University. Rosanne is also the author of four books, including her memoir Composed.
In 2019, Rosanne opened up to PEOPLE about what it was like living with Cash during his rise to superstardom and his struggles with addiction. “One day when he came home, it was impossible to connect [with him],” Rosanne told PEOPLE. “It was like a door closed. I was 7 or 8. He looked shaky and gaunt, [and he] couldn’t connect. And my mom wouldn’t explain it.”
Rosanne was young when her parents divorced. “I was relieved they were getting divorced,” she told PEOPLE. “I remember having this thought, even at 12, ‘Maybe now both of them will be happy.' ”
Despite the split, which she described as “so painful for my mom,” Rosanne formed a close relationship with her stepmother, June. "I had two really good examples from women in my life,” she told PEOPLE. “My mom gave me this powerful sense of discipline, family, mothering and detail orientation. And June gave me this sense of expansiveness and how to live life as a performer."
When Cash died in 2003, Rosanne spoke of his love for his family at his funeral. “He never criticized, he never condescended to us, he never forced his will on us,” she said. “He respected us as much as we respected him.”
“It was like it would be for anyone who saw someone else’s idea of their childhood,” she told Newsweek in 2006. “You would say, well, some of those facts are right, but that’s not what happened. That’s not my experience.”
“You know, I just don’t have a need to see the Hollywood version of my father’s drug addiction and my parents’ breakup,” she added.
The same year Walk the Line was released, Vivian died on Rosanne's 50th birthday. Eighteen years later, Rosanne reflected on her mother's death with a tribute on Instagram. "My mom died on my birthday 18 years ago, and every year since I’ve always acknowledged my sadness about her passing to myself, privately, and tried not to let it color a celebration of my birthday because she would not in a million years have wanted to take my birthday away from me,” she captioned a photo of her mother. “Tomorrow, I will enjoy the day, and let her be a part of my thoughts with gratitude and joy, but today she is with me in powerful longing, and I wish so much that she could see her great-grandchildren.”
Now 68 years old, Rosanne has five adult children: She shares daughters Hannah, Caitlin, Chelsea and Carrie with her first husband, Rodney Crowell, and son Jakob with her current husband, John Rosenthal.
Carlene Carter, 68
Carlene Carter was born Rebecca Carlene Carter on Sept. 26, 1955, to June and her first husband, country singer Carl Smith.
She followed in her family's musical footsteps, singing in the Carter Family musical group at 17. In 1978, she released her first self-titled album and has continued to release music in the decades since. She was nominated for a Grammy in 1991 for her album I Fell In Love and earned a top new female vocalist nod by the Academy of Country Music the same year.
"There's the pressure anytime you're the child of a famous person," Carlene told PEOPLE in 1991. "There was a period where I was a little scared that I'd blown my chance. But I think everything that I did, every step I took, every wrong turn led to this. I've matured as a writer and human being. I've got some wisdom under my belt."
Carlene has also credited her stepfather Cash as a "huge influence," writing on her website, "He was a huge influence on my becoming an entertainer and a strong woman, not just a chick singer-songwriter, because of his encouragement."
Following the deaths of her mother in May 2003 and her stepfather in September 2003, the country artist was present at a Nashville tribute concert hosted that November. “This is truly a tribute,” she said at the time. “It’s a way for us to celebrate the music they brought to the world.”
In January 2024, Carlene and her younger brother John, executive produced a documentary about their mother June's life, June.
"This film offers a great opportunity to realize that June was a star of television and music from an early age —decades before she became ‘Mrs. Johnny Cash,’ ” Carlene said in a press release about the documentary. “While some may not fully be aware of her many talents, influence, and just how much she mattered as an entertainer, this lovely documentary offers clear insight for everyone to see the true character and the joy she shared.”
Kathy Cash Tittle, 67
Kathy Cash was born on April 16, 1956, in Memphis. She’s a singer and actor and appeared in the 2016 film What’s the Matter with Gerald?, which was written by her son Dustin Tittle and son-in-law Matt Riddlehoover.
Like Rosanne, Kathy wasn't a fan of Walk the Line, so much so that she walked out of a family screening five times, the Associated Press reported. “My mom was basically a nonentity in the entire film except for the mad little psycho who hated his career,” Kathy told the outlet in 2005. “That’s not true. She loved his career and was proud of him until he started taking drugs and stopped coming home.”
Kathy is currently married to singer Jimmy Tittle, whom she met in the 1970s through her older sister Rosanne. She and Tittle welcomed two children together, Dustin and Kacy. Kathy is also mom to son Thomas Gabriel from a previous relationship.
Rosie Carter Nix
Rosie Carter Nix was born on July 13, 1958, to June and her second husband Edwin Nix. Like her mother, sister and stepfather, Rosie also led a musical life, performing on The Johnny Cash Show and with the Carter Family.
In October 2003 — five months after her mother's death that May — Rosie died of carbon monoxide poisoning. She was 45 years old.
Cindy Cash, 64
Cindy Cash was born on July 29, 1959 in Ventura, California. She’s a country musician who performed with her father on The Johnny Cash Show and was once in The Next Generation, a band formed by the children of Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, George Jones and Tammy Wynette. She has also appeared in films like 1983's The Cradle Will Fall.
"As a child, my mother protected us from all of the celebrity-ism," she told the Sioux City Journal in 2010. "My first memory of his being popular was us in a limo, leaving a performance and people climbing on the car. I was hysterically crying. I didn't realize they wanted to love him, to touch him. I remember being cradled under my dad's arm in the back of the car. I realized I had to share him with the whole world."
In 2005, Cindy opened up to the Hattiesburg American about the challenges of having a famous father who wasn’t around much in her childhood. The first time Cash picked her up from school, she said, "I was excited because my friends would get to see that I actually had a father.”
Cindy also told the newspaper that she refused to see Walk the Line. "It ends in 1968 and everything big in his career happened after that so it doesn't make sense to me," she said. "It's basically about my dad and June's adultery and my mother's agony."
In 2011, Cindy auctioned off some of her father’s possessions to benefit charity at the Johnny Cash Music Festival. “I want people to see a side of Dad that they never saw,” she told The Desert Sun at the time. “He was a father, a grandfather, a family man. His family was so important to him and he was such a compassionate man.”
Cindy has one daughter, Jessica Dorraine Brock, from her first marriage. From 1983 to 1988, Cindy was married to musician Marty Stuart. In 2003, she wed Eddie Panetta, and they remained married until his death from a motorcycle accident in 2009.
Tara Cash Schwoebel, 62
Tara Cash Schwoebel was born on Aug. 24, 1961, in Encino, California. She has worked as a jewelry designer and in costuming and wardrobe for films.
In 2014, Tara released Recollections by J.R. Cash, a collection of writing that Cash gave to her as a birthday gift. “I feel it is time to share this priceless journal,” she wrote in the book. “I have held this book close to my heart for all these years. With no hesitation, knowing that Dad would be proud to share these stories, I now want to share it with his fans, friends, and family to cherish, as I do.”
She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, filmmaker and art director Fred Schwoebel, and their children.
John Carter Cash, 53
The only child of Cash and June, John Carter Cash, was born on March 3, 1970. He grew up in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Among his closest friends were the children of other famous musicians — in fact, in 2017, John Carter officiated the wedding of Roy Orbison, Jr., a lifelong friend.
He also shared a strong bong with his musical father, telling WTOP in 2016 that Cash “was always my best friend growing up." John continued, “He truly was. We spent a lot of time fishing, doing outdoors activities. I got to travel on the road with him a great deal. I went from city to city with him. I’d been to 26 countries by the time I was 4 years old.”
Now an adult, John has a successful career as a musician, having released three albums. He’s also a producer, collaborating with music luminaries like Loretta Lynn, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson. He’s worked with family too, producing his mother’s Press On and Wildwood Flower albums, and Cash’s American III: Solitary Man and American IV: The Man Comes Around.
Unlike his sisters, John has a warmer view of his parents’ big screen depiction in Walk the Line. "I'm compassionately understanding," he told Fox News in 2005. “The point of the film is my parents' love affair." He was also an executive producer on the film and appeared in a scene cut from the final version, according to the Sioux City Journal.
In addition to his music career, John has authored several children’s books, including Anchored In Love, a biography of his mother; House of Cash: The Legacies of My Father Johnny Cash; and The Cash and Carter Family Cookbook. In 2016, John released a book of his father’s poetry titled Forever Words: The Unknown Poems. He uncovered the material in the book while going through the contents of his late parents’ house.
“He never really threw anything away,” John said of his late father. “Most of this was stored away in desk drawers in his office and filing cabinets in a storage room.”
The book not only revealed unseen writing from the country legend but also more about him as a person. “He was a man of light and laughter,” John told WTOP in 2016. “That’s not as well recognized sometimes, and that’s definitely in here. There’s views into the very nature of his darkness and shortcomings in these pages. And there’s a lot of insight into the light and great endurance of his character at the end of his life. In the face of adversity, loss, seemingly insurmountable pain and the physical frailties that he had, he still continued.”
In 2023, he released Johnny Cash: The Life in Lyrics and shared an open letter to his father with PEOPLE that November. “Dad, although you are very much alive in many ways, I feel I get closest to you through your words, and I am still reading, still listening and still learning,” he wrote. “And in doing so, I appreciate you more every day.”
John Carter has three children from previous marriages: Joseph John Cash, Anna Maybelle Cash and Jack Ezra Cash. He also shares Grace June Cash and James Kristoffer Cash with wife Ana Cristina Cash.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.