Yes. We’re trying to keep the sound alive.
You never hear Marty Robbins’ music anymore and that’s a shame. He was one of
my favorites. I enjoy playing Johnny’s music
so much. We did about 70 dates last year,
and will do about the same this year. Our
biggest market is Canada. We do Ireland,
Wales, England, and we just got back from
Italy. We don’t do a lot of gigs in the States.
John had trouble getting booked down
south. He could go to New York and the
place would be packed like sardines, but
we’d go to Atlanta, and the halls wouldn’t
even be filled. And forget Nashville;
John couldn’t get arrested there. They
never knew what to make of him, as
famous as he was. He never fit that
mold of Nashville Country. We used to
play Vegas about four weeks a year, but
Johnny didn’t like playing there, because
the people were too busy eating dinner
and weren’t paying attention. Also, the
climate was bad for his voice. It dried his
throat out. John had a small humidifier on
his mic stand when we played Vegas.
What did you think of the movie,
Walk the Line?
I thought it was okay, but I wish they
would’ve concentrated more on the music
than the story of Johnny and June getting
together and Johnny getting off dope. I
would’ve loved to have been included,
but the movie ended in March 1968, and I
didn’t join until September. Johnny actually
proposed to June onstage just like in the
movie. They were in London, and people
were yelling to June, “Say yes! Say yes!”
That was accurate. June was a wonderful
woman. She was my buddy, and the one
who got my daughter Scarlett into singing. June called her onstage to sing with
the Carter Family in Branson, Missouri, and
gave her the singing bug.
There might be a sequel now to Walk the
Line, I’m told, and my character will be in
it this time.
What’s your take on contemporary
A lot of people like it, but it doesn’t sound
like country music to me.
Do the European audiences appreciate
you more than Americans?
Yes, European audiences appreciate our
music more. Like I said, the Canadians
especially give us a great reception. We’ve
played the Whistler Garibaldi Ski Resort in
British Columbia about six or seven times,
and it’s always great. I could tell you stories about the kindness we’ve seen from
Canadians. When we go to Europe, we
get treated like royalty. Americans don’t
appreciate their own styles of music like
What kind of reaction do you get from
the hardcore Cash fans?
If they’ve never seen us, they don’t know
what to think. Once they see us and hear
what we’re doing, they love it. They’ll come
up to me and say, “You sound like him, you
look like him.” There’s a whole story that
goes along with our show; we tell people
why we’re keeping Johnny’s music alive.
Have you considered doing an instructional guitar video showing us how to
play the Luther/Bob style of guitar?
It was mentioned to me in the ‘80s. I
thought about it, but never did anything
about it. It’s just something I’ve been doing
my whole life. I wanted my daughters to
take over my style, and Montana can do
the solo on “Cry Cry Cry,” but then she
might not do it the next day. I thought
nobody would be interested in seeing a
video of me.
You should do a video, Bob. How else
would guitarists learn that style if you
don’t pass it on?
You know, I’m going to go talk to my people tomorrow about doing just that.
It’s amazing that you were destined to
play with Johnny. There had to have been
some divine power at work. Have you
ever asked yourself why your life unfolded the way it did?
It was just meant for me to do what I did.
I have thought about it often. God chose
me to do what I did, and I knew it from
the first time I heard Johnny’s music on
the radio. I feel very blessed to have had
this great career and to be able to do this
Bob and the Tennessee Three, 1969. L-R: WS Holland, Wootton, Marshall Grant