Johnny Cash’s Final Full Concert Was In Michigan And It Was Heartbreaking
The legendary "Man in Black" Johnny Cash passed away on September 12th, 2003 after battling several health issues for years. But one of the first signs of his ailing health happened during a concert in Michigan in 1997, which also turned out to be the final full concert of his career.
On October 25th, 1997, Cash was set to perform at the Whiting Auditorium in Flint. 65-years-old at the time, he took the stage just after 8:00pm and immediately it was clear that something was wrong. He was reportedly shaking and some concert goers said he looked and sounded weak. Then about a half hour into the set, he dropped his guitar pick. According to many in attendance, while bending over to pick it up he nearly collapsed into the first row of seats. After regaining his balance with help from band members, he felt obligated to explain to the over 2,100 in attendance what was happening.
Many in the crowd were laughing believing it was a stunt. Cash then announced he had Parkinson's disease. The crowd continued laughing, thinking it was still part of a joke or a sarcastic explanation to why he was off balance. Then a chill went through the room when he said "It ain't funny". Fans now realized that he was indeed seriously ill. That's when a heartbreaking moment turned into a heartwarming one as the crowd gave a lengthy round of applause and cheers of support for him. He then began the next song and finished what turned out to be the final set list for the music legend as Johnny Cash ended his touring career in that Flint auditorium.
Cash's diagnosis of Parkinson's was later changed to Shy-Drager, a neurodegenerative disease, and he was told he had about 18 months to live. The diagnosis changed again to autonomic neuropathy associated with diabetes. He was forced to cancel touring, but lived for six more years and continued to record music and do short performances and appearances occasionally during most of the remainder of his life.
Johnny Cash passed away in 2003 at the age of 71. But the "Man In Black's" legacy and the immeasurable influence he had in the early days of rock and roll, as well as country and gospel music, lives forever when that distinct, low range voice is heard on his multitude of studio and live recordings. That's not to mention his warming influence on the world in general. There will never be another like him.