Fire Destroys Johnny Cash's Longtime Lakeside Tennessee Home

Tuesday, April 10th 2007, 5:44 pm
By: News On 6

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A fire destroyed the lakeside home of the late country singer Johnny Cash on Tuesday.

The fire started around 1:40 p.m. CST in this suburb about 20 miles northeast of downtown Nashville. Fire trucks arrived within five minutes, but the house was already engulfed in flames, Hendersonville Fire Chief Jamie Steele said.

Just a few hours later, there was almost nothing left except brick chimneys and the steel frame.

The cause is unknown, but Steele said the flames spread quickly because construction workers had recently applied a flammable wood preservative to the exterior of the house. The preservative was also being applied inside the house.

No workers were injured, but one firefighter was slightly hurt while fighting the fire, Steele said.

Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash, lived at the home from the late 1960s until their deaths in 2003.

The property was purchased by Barry Gibb, a member of the Bee Gees, in January 2006. Gibb and his wife, Linda, had said they planned to restore the home on Old Hickory Lake and hoped to write songs there.

Gibb's spokesman, Paul Bloch, said the singer and his family are ``both saddened and devastated by the news.''

While the Cashes lived there, the 13,880-square-foot home was visited by everyone from U.S. presidents to ordinary fans.

``So many prominent things and prominent people in American history took place in that house _ everyone from Billy Graham to Bob Dylan went into that house,'' said singer Marty Stuart, who lives next door and was married to Cash's daughter, Cindy, in the 1980s.

Stuart said the man who designed the house, Nashville builder Braxton Dixon, was ``the closest thing this part of the country had to Frank Lloyd Wright.''

When Cash moved there, the road was a quiet country lane that skirts Old Hickory Lake. Kris Kristofferson, then an aspiring songwriter, once landed a helicopter on Cash's lawn to pitch him a song.

In later years, Cash did a lot of recording in the home and in a studio on the property. The landmark video for his song ``Hurt'' was shot inside the house.

``It was a sanctuary and a fortress for him,'' Stuart said. ``There was a lot of writing that took place there.''

Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys lives on the same road as Cash. ``Maybe it's the good Lord's way to make sure that it was only Johnny's house,'' Sterban said.

Cash's musical career began in the 1950s and spanned from rock 'n' roll to folk to country. His hits included ``Ring of Fire,'' ``Folsom Prison Blues'' and ``I Walk the Line.''

The Bee Gees are best known for their disco hits of the late 1970s, such as ``Night Fever'' and ``Jive Talkin'.''