'Johnny Cash Forever' Stamp Released, Coinciding with Cash Museum Grand Opening

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Arkansas: With all due respect to occasional saxman Bill Clinton, Johnny Cash wins this musical election. The Man in Black, born in aptly named Kingsland, won new audiences with new music in even his final years (i.e., his haunting cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt") and topped the Billboard 200 as recently as 2006, three years after his passing.

Dozens of Johnny Cash fans lined up early this morning in Nashville to be the first to own the new "Johnny Cash Forever" U.S. Postage stamp.

The first-day-of-issue-ceremony was timed for the start of the CMA Music Festival, and the grand opening of the new Johnny Cash Museum, a short walk away from the event at the famed Ryman Auditorium.

“Dad was no stranger to licking a stamp,” said Kathy Cash, one of Johnny Cash’s four daughters. “And we have the letters to prove it. Mom and Dad had a four year courtship when he was stationed in Germany, and they wrote ten thousand letters to each other.”

“And when he heard an up-and-coming singer on the radio he liked, he’d sit down and write a letter of encouragement,” she added.

Legendary country stars took the Ryman stage to perform in honor of Cash; including The Oak Ridge Boys, Larry Gatlin, Marty Stuart, Randy Travis, The Roys, and Cash family members like John Carter Cash, who opened the show with his father’s “Folsom Prison Blues.”

With the Cash Forever stamp, “we hope to draw people in who might have forgotten what it feels like to get that personal piece of correspondence,” said Susan McGowan, director of Stamp Services for the U.S. Postal services.

Stamp enthusiasts are buzzing about the design, saying it looks like the sleeve of an old 45 record. “It’s highly collectible,” said McGowan.

The limited edition stamp features a promotional photo for the 1963 album “Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash,” and is part of the U.S. Postal Service's Music Icon Series.

Artists performing throughout the four day CMA Music Festival have been offered free Johnny Cash stamp t-shirts to wear on stage, in an effort to promote the release. We may spot one tonight on someone on the stage at the CMT Awards show at the Bridgestone Arena, or on any of the artists performing on the stage at LP Field over the next four nights.

The Cash family and the Johnny Cash estate were not compensated for the use of the likeness by the Postal Service, which never pays to use an image to honor someone.

Since his dad passed in 2003, there have been numerous stories and movies depicting the life of Johnny Cash, “but I can think of no greater honor,” said son John Carter Cash, “than being remembered with a U.S. Postage stamp. It’s amazing.”

Johnny Cash Forever stamps are available today in post offices nationwide. A Ray Charles forever stamp will be released in September.