The Johnny Cash Family Tree of Performers
The House of Cash is one of the most critical and accomplished family lineages in the history of country music. Though Johnny Cash is where most of the attention dwells, now three generations of performers have emerged, while Cash’s siblings have also contributed to the country music canon.
You also can’t mention the Cash family without The Carter Family, of which Johnny Cash married into when he wed June Carter. Henceforth the story of these two important families were intertwined. But since that family tree is so vast, it will be chronicled separately. Below is the line of succession of music performers and contributors with authentic Cash blood in them.
READ: The Hank Williams Family Tree of Performers
(February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003)
Cash. The Man in Black. Just as much myth as legend. From being one of the primary members of the nascent explosion of popular music in America when he emerged out of Sun Studios in Memphis, to influencing a sixth decade of performers when he paired with Rick Rubin and experienced one of the most improbable late-career resurgences, arguably no artist ever left a wider and deeper crater on American culture from the position of a country artist than Johnny Cash.
Sure, there are country performers with more hit records and songs. There were probably more influential performers in country music for their time. Some love to point out that Johnny Cash wasn’t really even that country at all, but more of a rockabilly cat. But the way Johnny Cash could bring people together from across cultural divides and loom like a demigod wherever his shadow was cast is what made him so remarkable. Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, rock or country, Gospel or Outlaw—even hip-hop legends worship at the alter of Johnny Cash.
From participating in the legendary Million Dollar Quartet, to the country music supergroup The Highwaymen, to playing prisons and collaborating with Bob Dylan, from launching The Johnny Cash Show which in retrospect was one of the most critical melting pots in American history, Johnny Cash did it all. It’s clear to see that life in America and beyond would be compositionally different in very fundamental ways if it wasn’t for the life of Johnny Cash, and it would be fundamentally different today if he was still alive to share his calming wisdom.
(born April 5, 1940)
With the way the legacy of Johnny Cash looms so large, you could almost forget that Johnny’s brother eight years his junior also had a pretty sizable career of his own. Tommy Cash was the youngest of the seven children of Ray and Carrie (Rivers) Cash, and similar to Johnny, his music career started while he was still serving in the military and became a DJ for the Armed Forces Radio Network.
After leaving the military, Tommy Cash started touring around with Hank Williams Jr. before signing with Musicor Records in 1965, and started releasing singles. He wasn’t too successful on the label, and eventual moved to United Artists, where he started gaining attention. It was the song “Six White Horses” in 1969 written by Larry Murray about the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. that put Tommy Cash on the map in his own right, earning him a #4 hit in country, and a #1 in Canada.
Tommy Cash followed this up with two more Top 10’s in “Rise and Shine” and “One Song Away,” and would land a dozen more Top 40 hits over the next four years. Though his commercial impact would slow shortly thereafter, Tommy Cash was and is a regular performer at traditional country gatherings and Johnny Cash remembrances. A licensed real estate agent in Tennessee as well, he’s also helped manage the properties associated with the family.
Tommy’s son Mark Alan Cash is also a performer.
Joanne Cash Yates
Johnny Cash’s youngest sister Joanne grew up just like Johnny and Tommy, singing Gospel hymns during the day while picking cotton, and then entertaining themselves with country and Gospel radio programs at night. After being hired on at Johnny’s House of Cash studio, Joanne started singing professionally live, especially in the Gospel realm.
But Joanne Cash’s greatest contribution to country and Nashville might be her co-founding of the Nashville Cowboy Church, which is still in operation today. Marrying Dr. Harry Yates, Joanne traveled for 15 years in a gospel ministry, but decided to settle down in 1990. Holding their first service in a Holiday Inn lounge to six people, soon the Nashville Cowboy Church swelled to a congregation hundreds, and moved to the Texas Troubadour Theater across the street from the Grand Ole Opry where it still resides today (COVID-19 restrictions notwithstanding).
(born May 24, 1955)
Aside from Hank Williams Jr., there’s no other son or daughter of country music more accomplished that Rosanne Cash. Well, Rosanne’s stepmother June Carter may have something to say about that. But the eldest child of Cash from his first marriage to Vivian Liberto left a huge impact on country music in the 80’s, and remains active today.
Starting her career as a wardrobe assistant for her father on the road, and then working herself into the position of a backup singer, Rosanne spent much of her early life dabbling with music, but with only one foot in. She moved to London, then back to Nashville to attend college, then out to Los Angeles to study to be an actor, writing, recording, and releasing songs along the way, but with no real solid direction.
That all changed when she married Rodney Crowell in 1978, and they started a musical relationship that was one of the most successful throughout the 80’s. A more pop-oriented artist as far as style, yet with deep artistry in her lyricism, the song and album “Seven Year Ache” in 1981 shot Rosanne Cash to the front of the line in country, where she would proceed to land ten #1 singles out of the 15 she released in the 80’s decade.
When the hits ran out for her in the 90’s, Rosanne Cash reverted back to her roots and became a respected member of the Americana movement, including with second husband and producer John Leventhal by her side. With a pretty incredible 16 Grammy nominations and four wins, Rosanne Cash is a credible contender for the Country Music Hall of Fame.
(born July 29th, 1959)
Though Cindy didn’t decide to get into the family business full time like older sister Rosanne or half brother John Carter, Cindy Cash’s musical contributions are still worth noting. She sang with her father and later her stepmother June Carter often, and made appearances on The Johnny Cash Show. Cindy was just nine when her dad and mother Vivian divorced. Also important to note, Cindy was married to Marty Stuart from 1983 to 1988—around the time Marty Stuart was playing in Johnny Cash’s band. Cindy and Marty were married when they were both 21-years-old.
But perhaps most interesting—and relevant to the conversation of famous offspring in country music—Cindy Cash performed in the group called The Next Generation in the late 80’s, which included Loretta Lynn’s daughter Peggy, Conway Twitty’s daughter Kathy, and the daughter of George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Georgette Jones.
Cindy’s involvement in music has been mostly relegated to dalliances here and there. Her other passion has been antiques, and she’s owned stores and worked as a dealer for many years. She also published a book on the Cash family in 1997 called The Cash Family Scrapbook.
John Carter Cash
(born March 3, 1970)
Being the only child of Johnny Cash and June Carter gives John Carter Cash a rare purity of country music royal blood, and makes him the only true nexus between two of country music’s top musical families. Though John Carter has recorded and performed as a solo artist throughout his music career, he didn’t inherit the same hunger for the spotlight like mom and pops. Instead, John Carter’s primary way through life has been as a producer.
Loretta Lynn, Marty Stuart, Brooks & Dunn, Jamey Johnson, Billy Joe Shaver, George Jones, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, his mother, his father, and his sister Rosanne are just some of the names John Carter has produced, and successfully so, having produced five Grammy-winning records. John Carter Cash is one of those critical players behind-the-scenes that makes great music happen that you never hear enough about.
Along with his work with individual artists, John Carter Cash is the caretaker of the Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, TN, which has birthed many famous recordings itself. He’s also very much the face and voice of the Cash estate, regularly penning the forwards of books, and the liner notes of albums that involve his famous father. He’s also an author, writing both about his family’s legacy, as well as three children’s books.
John Carter’s wife Ana Cristina Cash is also a performer, singer, and songwriter.
Thomas Gabriel doesn’t need a history lesson on Johnny Cash; he received one while growing up. He was the first grandson of Johnny Cash, and his mother Kathy gave birth to him when she was just 16, meaning grandparents Johnny and June often stepped in to help with parenting. At only 13, Thomas Gabriel was already showing signs of inheriting the family’s musical attributes, as well as his grandfather’s propensity towards addiction. It was at this age that Johnny Cash took Thomas to his first AA meeting, and saw the teenager being plagued by the same demons he was. It would be one meeting of many.
But Thomas Gabriel would work his way through the worst of his family history, initially that is. Johnny Cash could see how music could be a difficult road for Thomas with his addiction troubles, and instead compelled him to become a police officer, which he did for eight years. But overnight patrol shifts and bottles of pills still led Thomas down a troubled path, and eventually he found himself on the flip side of the law, floating in and out of jail, and eventually serving a 10 year prison sentence.
Now Thomas Gabriel finally has control of his demons to the point where he can pursue music with purpose, and with a handful of songs—many he wrote while in prison—that are more than worthy of the Johnny Cash legacy. In his 2018 album Long Way Home, Thomas Gabriel takes you through an autobiography of a very turbulent, incarcerated, addiction-riddled life with an eerie connectivity and continuation of the Johnny Cash story.
The daughter of Rosanne and Rodney never wanted to be considered riding off anyone’s coattails or taking advantage of her famous name. After touring and performing with both her mother and her father, Chelsea released multiple albums without any label backing, and all self-funded. Her self-titled album from 2009, Crystal City from 2011, as well as a duo project called Jane Only with songwriting partner Stephen Braren from the pop/punk group Cheap Time all showcase depth of lyricism that would do mom and dad proud.
Open about her anxieties of making music over the years, Chelsea Crowell has remained under-the-radar compared to many of the other sons and daughters of country. But her writing talents are undeniable.
The youngest performer that can still boast having authentic Cash blood coursing through his veins, the only offspring of the Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal marriage has decided to make his way in the world through earnest and expansive folk-style offerings that at times veer into the world of indie rock.
Based in New York City and Chicago, Jakob is very active and has released multiple singles, and 8-song album in 2019 called Oh, So Bittersweet, and an EP in 2020 called Greenwich Village Ghosts which included a collaboration with Sarah Jarosz. Jakob has also worked as an engineer, mixer, and producer, including for his mother.
More Cash Family Tree Info
Siblings of Johnny Cash (in order of age): Roy, Margaret Louise, Jack, Johnny, Reba, Joanne, and Tommy.
Children of Johnny Cash:
From wife Vivian Liberto (in order of age): Rosanne, Kathy, Cindy, and Tara
From wife June Carter: John Carter
Children of Rosanne Cash:
From husband Rodney Crowell (in order of age): Caitlin, Chelsea, and Carrie (and Hannah from Crowell’s previous marriage)
From husband John Leventhal: Jakob Leventhal
Children of John Carter Cash:
Joseph John Cash, Anna Maybelle Cash, Jack Ezra Cash, Grace June Cash
March 28, 2021 @ 11:18 am
Johnny Cash was the biggest musical influence on me, by far.
Tommy had some good hits as well, but none remotely as groundbreaking or influential as those of Johnny. However, in recent years I have seen videos of Tommy where he is performing Johnny’s songs, and it really rubs me the wrong way. It seems he was desperately, and, sadly, trying to remain relevant while figuratively standing on Johnny’s corpse.
March 28, 2021 @ 1:05 pm
I get what you’re saying, but I think this assessment is pretty harsh. There is a difference between paying tribute and exploiting someone’s legacy. Johnny was clearly the bigger star and Tommy would be the first to tell you that. I think he’s just trying to keep Johnny’s memory alive.
March 28, 2021 @ 12:24 pm
Side note on John Carter Cashs wife Ana which Trig mentioned. She possess’s an incredible voice. She was a star in the Latino music world in the past. Check out her cover of Lovin You on You Tube. She hits high notes unlike anybody ive heard. She could shatter a wine glass im pretty certain. We saw her and John Carter perform live at a tribute to Cash show in Cleveland, some years back. Shes recorded some country material including a cover of the John Anderson hit Seminole Wind. Shes really good, dont know why Cash hasnt marketed her more. My guess is because shes having kids right now. Check out her singing.
March 28, 2021 @ 1:49 pm
Trig – what about Thomas Gabriel? He even sounds quite a bit like the old man.
March 28, 2021 @ 2:06 pm
Gross oversight. I wrote a big profile for him back in 2018. He’s so detached from the rest of the family, there’s barely any record of him. I’ve added him here.
March 28, 2021 @ 2:18 pm
Lol – yeah, your article was why I first knew about him. Figured I’d be the one to catch you this time. 😉 It’s a big family so it’s not a surprise you forgot someone.
Thanks for cranking out the content!
March 29, 2021 @ 7:39 am
I saw Thomas Gabriel a couple of years back and indeed his voice sounds almost identical. He was billed as Johnny Cash’s grandson opening for Jackson Taylor & The Sinners who ended up canceling because their drummer went AWOL. Thomas ended up playing a couple of sets and only 2 or 3 Cash tunes. He was solid and barely even a mention of who his grandpa was.
March 28, 2021 @ 4:55 pm
Thanks, Trig, this informative tribute is a great idea.
I’m going to look into some of these folks and give them a listen.
And, even better, nothing about race.
March 28, 2021 @ 5:18 pm
One more Cash relative associated with country music was Rosie Nix Adams. She was Johnny’s step daughter from June’s second marriage. She was involved with Eddy Shaver. It is alleged she introduced him to heroin. Billy Joe brought it up to Johnny, but he said Johnny denied her drug usage. She also later died of a drug overdose in 2003.
March 28, 2021 @ 5:29 pm
Slight correction. She died of carbon monoxide poisoning. She was using drugs in a bus with several propane heaters.
March 28, 2021 @ 5:33 pm
Yes, Rose Nix Adams has an interesting story. Officially she would fall under The Carter Family tree as June’s daughter. I hope to do one of these for The Carter Family in the future.
March 28, 2021 @ 7:07 pm
I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoyed Thomas Gabriel’s album.
Sir Adam the Great
March 28, 2021 @ 7:20 pm
Trig, there’s a documentary out about the Cash family and their substance problems called “Long Road Home: The Cash Family’s Untold Legacy”. I haven’t watched it yet, but the title comes from a Mark Alan Cash song (Tommy’s son) that I first heard at the Storyteller’s Museum in Bon Aqua, TN. His album is worth a listen if you can track it down. He’s a really nice guy and has been through the ringer with his addictions, which is an unfortunate recurring theme with the Cash family.
March 28, 2021 @ 8:45 pm
Mark Alan Cash (Tommy’s son, I believe), frequently plays & sings at the Storyteller’s Museum outside Nashville. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nbBGcnuH0g&ab_channel=StorytellersMuseum
March 28, 2021 @ 11:56 pm
This comment will probably fly over your head Trigger, but you are the Guru Larry of Country Music. You should consider writing a fact hunt book.
March 29, 2021 @ 8:14 am
Thanks for mentioning that Rosanne should be considered for the Hall. I think her credentials speak for themselves, and if her last name wasn’t Cash, she would have been in by now.
March 29, 2021 @ 4:23 pm
what about carline carter or is that the carter family tree?
April 1, 2021 @ 9:34 am
Wiki says: “She is the daughter of June Carter Cash and her first husband, Carl Smith.” So she’ll be in the Carter article.
February 21, 2022 @ 1:00 pm
I have known tommy for years. He has talent and has a nice voice He is a star and works hard at his music
Now on his 80.s he retired.
Best to you
May 19, 2022 @ 6:07 pm
why did they get rid of the cash name what the fart
Kendra Jean Mitchell
September 15, 2022 @ 7:07 am
Dose any one know witch sisters of Johnny cash dated a guy named bill or aka William I was told stories about it that She dated him an she was hardly ever talked about and she had a drug addiction I’m trying to find out who that was
My email firstname.lastname@example.org
Marilyn Ann Madaio
November 14, 2022 @ 8:45 am
IAM RELATED TO ROSEANN CASH KATHY CASH CINDY CASH AND TARA CASH JOHN CARTER CASH TOO AND HOW IAM RELATED TO THE CASH FAMILY JOHNNY CASH IS MY FATHERS COUSIN LOVE ALL OF THERE SINGING TOO HAVE RECORDS AND CD TOO ALL MY LOVE COUSIN MARILYN ANN MADAIO FROM WILKES BARRE PENNSLYVANINA>