An SF Johnny Cash concert from 1968, recorded just one week before the release of his landmark Folsom Prison album, has been digitally restored and released online by the son of famed Grateful Dead roadie Owsley “Bear” Stanley.
On the night of April 24, 1968, Johnny Cash's career was about to soar to incredible new heights, though he probably did not know this. His live album At Folsom Prison was about to be released the following week, and would go triple-platinum, revive his career, and become his best-selling non-compilation album ever released. He had just kicked the prescription pill habit, and his wife of just two months, June Carter, would be joining him onstage to perform a concert in San Francisco at a venue called the Carousel Ballroom (it’s now SVN West, and at one point was known as The Fillmore West). According to KPIX, “It was a Wednesday night and the suggested ticket price was $3.”
Why is this news? Because that April 24, 1968 San Francisco Johnny Cash concert has just been digitally remastered and released online for free, and it's never been publicly heard before.
SFist is embedding some of our favorite tracks, but you can listen to the full Johnny Cash At The Carousel Ballroom album for free, with all 28 tracks exactly as Johnny played them that April 1968 night. You get all the stage chatter, and you hear Johnny declare “This is my little wife, June Carter Cash,” and they launch into Track 16, “Jackson.”
Cash’s surviving family is thrilled with the recording. “I knew there was something specifically different about this show in particular,” the couple’s only child John Carter Cash told KPIX. “It sets my father’s voice apart. I believe it’s probably just as close to what it really would have been like if you were in the room that night.”
The vintage recordings are from the vault of Grateful Dead sound man and infamous LSD manufacturer Owsley “Bear” Stanley. These recordings have not been publicly released before, but Stanley’s son, veterinarian Dr. Starfinder Stanley (did we mention his dad did a great deal of LSD?), has been digitally restoring and re-releasing many of the secret gems from his father’s vault.
“We like to call it a time machine, because it really transports at least your ears back to those shows,” the junior Stanley told KPIX. “It’s something that we just can’t let evaporate. Unfortunately, reel-to-reel tapes are little iron oxide particles glued to plastic. It falls apart. It deteriorates.”
The recording has also been released as the full album Johnny Cash – At the Carousel Ballroom, available on CD and vinyl.
CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 1969: Married country singers Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash pose for a portrait at an event in September 1969 in California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)