1. 1968: Johnny Cash played at Folsom Prison
It was on this date in 1968 that country music legend, Johnny Cash, played in front of a large group of inmates at the Folsom Prison in California. Cash was a known advocate of inmate rights and had played at correctional facilities in the past. During a set on New Years Day in 1958 at the San Quentin State Prison, a young 20-year-old inmate by the name of Merle Haggard heard the “man in black” and really liked his music and no-nonsense attitude. Haggard would go to reach legendary status in country music also. But the Folsom Prison set was one that shot Johhny Cash into super stardom. He had the song named “Folsom Prison Blues” that was released on his debut album in 1955 that received mild success. However, when he played at Folsom in 1968 he recorded it again during his live performance in front of the prisoners and it shot up to No.1 on the charts and stayed there for quite some time. Cash had so much success with the Folsom album that he released a second the following year titled “Johnny Cash from San Quentin Prison in 1969” that actually became his first No.1 album.