Johnny Cash, country legend, dies at 71

American music icon Johnny Cash died early Friday in a Nashville hospital of respiratory failure, stemming from complications from diabetes. He was 71. He had been in ill health in recent years, and had been hospitalized repeatedly in the months preceding his death. His wife of 35 years, singer June Carter Cash, died at 73 on May 15 following heart surgery. Cash was one of the top hit-makers in country music history -- he charted 137 singles between 1955 and 2003. A member of the Rock and Roll, Country and Songwriter Halls of Fame, his career saw a renaissance in the 1990s, when producer Rick Rubin introduced him to a new generation of listeners with the spare and haunting "American Recordings" series of albums. As news of his death spread Friday, other musicians lined up to praise Cash. "I know that the angels will sing today and heaven is a better place with the addition of Johnny Cash," said country singer George Jones, a longtime Cash friend. "I'm sure he is happier now that he is with his beloved June."

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