Johnny Cash at the Carousel Ballroom: Not an Average Archive Release

It’s not uncommon for news to come down the pike about the release of some archival audio footage by a bygone musical icon, usually comprised of songs we’ve already heard many versions of before, and from an era that has already been well-covered. But the case if this upcoming release of a previously-unheard 1968 Johnny Cash concert is anything but ordinary; it’s certainly something to get excited about.

On April 24th, 1968, Johnny Cash, new wife June Carter, and the Tennessee Three showed up in the heart and at the height of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury for a performance at The Carousel Ballroom operated by none other than The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. On site at the time was the reclusive and highly-regarded recording engineer Owsley “Bear” Stanley to capture the 28-song set.

Owsley Stanley is the guy responsible for many of The Grateful Dead’s most legendary live recordings. He also was the chemist that supplied LSD to The Grateful Dead, Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, The Beatles, and others, and financed the Dead through his LSD business. Jerry Garcia may have been known as “Captain Trips,” but Stanley was known as “The King of Acid.” He also was the Dead’s sound engineer for years, and orchestrated their legendary “Wall of Sound” that made them such a massive concert draw for decades.

On September 24th, Owsley Stanley’s recordings of Johnny Cash at the Carousel Ballroom will finally make it to the public on a CD/2LP set that features new essays by John Carter Cash, Owsley Stanley’s son Starfinder Stanley, the Dead’s Bob Weir, and Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools, as well as new art by Susan Archie, and a reproduction of the original gig poster by Steve Catron. It will also be available on all digital services.

What’s especially exciting about this unearthed recording is the time period from when it comes. It was recorded only three months after Johnny Cash’s iconic At Folsom Prison, and between that set an Cash’s next prison album At San Quentin. In other words, these recordings come from the era that many consider to be Cash’s most important, at least live. Johnny’s prison albums were responsible for revitalizing his career.

Along with featuring Tennessee Three members guitarist Luther Perkins, bassist Marshall Grant and drummer W.S. Holland, the 28-song set features the Bob Dylan compositions “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright,” and Cash’s earliest known recording of “One Too Many Mornings.”

Owsley Stanley’s approach to recording live music was legendary, and John Carter Cash calls the set, “what I believe to be one of the most intimate and connected shows I have ever heard.” You can hear that intimacy in the first track that’s been made available, “I’m Going to Memphis.” This 28-song release truly is the crossroads of two cultures at a critical time in the formation of popular music.

The full set’s out September 24th.


  1. Cocaine Blues
  2. Long Black Veil
  3. Orange Blossom Special
  4. Going to Memphis
  5. The Ballad of Ira Hayes
  6. Rock Island Line
  7. Guess Things Happen That Way
  8. One Too Many Mornings
  9. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
  10. Give My Love to Rose
  11. Green, Green Grass of Home
  12. Old Apache Squaw
  13. Lorena
  14. Forty Shades of Green
  15. Bad News
  16. Jackson
  17. Tall Lover Man
  18. June’s Song Introduction
  19. Wildwood Flower
  20. Foggy Mountain Top
  21. This Land Is Your Land
  22. Wabash Cannonball
  23. Worried Man Blues
  24. Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man
  25. Ring of Fire
  26. Big River
  27. Don’t Take Your Guns to Town
  28. I Walk the Line
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