|Article Overview: Johnny
Cash fought the Beast of Terror all his life. He could have
surrendered to its power, but he fought for Vigilance to the last
breath. Now, he's gone. But his Vigilance remains as
a sober lesson to us all to never give up the battle against
13, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 731
Johnny Cash--The Man In
Black--Battles Terrorism To The End
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Sep 13, 2003-- I hired
Johnny Cash once to perform for 7,500 people from the international
company I served as its head of marketing. And, I was sad when
he died, for I knew he died battling the Beast of Terror.
died battling the Beast of Terror
We met about 25 years ago in 1978.
Each year the company I served as the
head of international marketing sported a convention in Las Vegas to
present our new tools and systems to more than 7,000 owners of
franchises and their sales forces that numbered more than 100,000
To peak the three-day event, we sought
headliners to perform as we weaved in new advertising campaigns,
presented fabulously designed sales and management tools, and sought
to inspire our franchisees to continue paying six percent of their
gross income for the license fee we owned. The events were
as much political as practicable, igniting our members with a sense of
belonging and need similar to the Republican or Democratic conventions
that seek to inspire members to beat the bushes and gain more market
share of votes than the other.
Credibility was reinforced by hiring
icons such as Bob Hope, Ella Fitzgerald or George Burns, and high
profile names like Ronald Reagan and former President Gerald Ford
whose presence endorsed our leadership as the biggest and best in our
But we also had another goal.
To make sure our people left the convention with a great taste in
their mouths for coming back the next year. Johnny Cash
would sing them into a state of glee, I thought. The
executive committee agreed, and I made a deal with Cash to perform for
an hour at the Hilton Convention Center for a whopping $70,000.
In those days, that wasn't hay.
Of all the people I had hired to
spike the enthusiasm of our people, no one held them more captive to
his charms than Johnny Cash.
held the audience captive to his talent and charms
He was warm and powerful, his songs
speaking to a chord in all of how a country boy could rise from simple
surroundings to the peak of glory. Franchising itself is about
becoming a giant from nothing. By attaching your wagon to
a star, aligning yourself to the Big Brand Name, the smallest of all
competitors can reflect the image of a giant; David can become Goliath
Johnny Cash was a symbol of bootstrap
success. He enraptured the audience and sent them to
all points of the compass with smiles on their faces.
married Johnny Cash March 1, 1968
My wife and I
met with Johnny and his wife, June prior to the show.
He was an imposing image, grander by far than any of the politicians
or business icons we had hired before. He was a "regular guy," and spoke of the
property he had just purchased. June, his wife, described how
they were going to turn the property into a home, designing it around
their children so their kids would have acres of safe playground to
roam and imagine all the wonderment of innocence.
I remember her eyes sparkling as she spoke of the
property's architecture, and the quiet appreciation Johnny Cash gave
her as she bubbled over with enthusiasm about the project.
"We can play for a couple of hours or more if you want,
Cliff," he said. "We're all set up. You call it."
He made the statement from his guts. Most
performers climb up on the stage and look at their watch, and at the
end of their set rush off to move on to the next show.
I wished I could have taken Johnny up on his offer.
But we had a herd of Las Vegas union workers set to strike the set at
a specific time, and our people all had their planes to catch.
To take him up on his offer would have screwed up countless logistics.
That was the kind of guy he was.
He was as human as a man could be, and his wife was his
charisma he was a "regular guy"
Of course, he was dressed in black--a striking figure
that swallowed the room's energy and dwarfed the multimillionaires who
surrounded him, awed by his craggy face and stentorically soft Voice
that rang like the reverberation of a blacksmith's anvil. My
wife still speaks of the penthouse filled with chattering party goers
wholly silenced by his magnificent charisma as he strode in clad in a
black long-rider coat.
I left the company a couple of years later,
taking with me a few great memories. One of those my meeting
with Johnny and June Cash.
I kept my ear to the rail regarding Johnny.
In a few moments, he and I had bonded. I'm a big guy like
he and have fought my own battles through life not unlike the battles
One of his demons was booze and pills.
He struggled with it most of his life, slipping in and out of the
June helped him sober up and served as his
Sentinel of Vigilance, working with him to keep his head above the
waters that sought to suck him back into the neck of the bottle, or to
pry out the pain pills and swallow far more than he needed for that
extra "boost," that shot of false energy that drove the body and mind
beyond its capacity.
I ran into him in Newport Beach about a
decade ago. He was struggling to stay clean and sober, trying to
surround himself with life preservers that would keep him afloat as
the Beast clutched and grappled at the Man In Black, trying to suck
him down into the quagmire where spirits and pills clouded his vision,
dulled his magic and ravaged his body.
When Johnny Cash died, a part of me
I felt a loss within, a friend had gone.
In May of this year, June died.
I thought of Johnny Cash missing his Sentinel of Vigilance. I
thought of his body shuddering and shaking, trying to battle the Beast
without her help. He was already scarred by his past.
His body--liver, heart and chemistry--was on its last legs.
Still, he performed. He continued to etch his legacy upon the
ears, the minds and souls of the young people.
American IV was nominated for best album of the year
His recent nominations at the MTV awards
symbolized his far-reaching impact on all generations, and the ability
of his music to cross all lines. He was a United Nations
Ambassador of Music--a man who fought to improve life for all even
though he, himself, was dying a slow, painful death.
Heroism is about selflessness.
It's about sacrifice.
The Principles of Vigilance--Courage,
Conviction and Right Actions that benefit the Children's Children's
Children--did not die with Johnny Cash. He fought to
the end to leave future generations a message, not just with music,
but with a full, challenging life.
booze and drugs throughout his career. (above performing at San
He fought the booze and drugs
throughout his career. And, he sought out those who could help
him in the battle, specifically, his wife.
I think about those of us who fold
our tents when the going gets rough. Sometimes, when we
face our demons we allow them to win the battle. We
surrender to them and stop giving Vigilance the due it deserves.
It's called Complacency, the third element of the Triad of Terrorism,
which has as its first two elements Fear and Intimidation.
Daily, I know in my heart Johnny Cash had
to shake off the Beast of Terror. The drugs and booze called to
him like sirens, beckoning him to succumb to their seduction.
enabled Johnny Cash to leave his legacy for the young
But I know he couldn't have driven himself
to the final success he achieved with his MTV accolades unless his
mind was clear.
Sobriety--the art of clear thinking--wedged
its way through the yoke of the Beast of Terror, lifted it, and let
Johnny Cash leave his legacy for the young, for generations that might
have blinked and never knew how great the Man In Black really was.
The Man in
Black is among the Sentinels of Vigilance
Now, Johnny Cash is among the
Sentinels of Vigilance. He sings to them in his
gravel-rich Voice, reminding those who take the wrong turn when the
shadow of the Beast of Terror casts its pall upon them that there is a
"ring of fire" that one must leap over again and again.
I will think well of Johnny and June
Cash. I will see them fiddling up above Ground Zero,
keeping the eyes and minds of the Sentinels of Vigilance sober so that
the Beast of Terror can't penetrate the safety and security of the
children or their Children's Children's Children.
Yes, I will see the Man In Black
smiling down on all the children, reminding them to never give up.
And, fortunately, they will be listening to his music, the music of a
Man of Vigilance.