Johnny Cash's son recalls 'uncomfortable' encounter in Russian-controlled Czechoslovakia

John Carter Cash

John Carter Cash (L) and Waylon Payne.  (Brad Newman)

John Carter Cash can still vividly recall a frightening time on the road with his father, American country music star Johnny Cash.

It was 1977 when Johnny brought his whole family to Russian-controlled Czechoslovakia as part of his European tour John recalled during an interview for the "Children of Song" podcast. John, whose mother was fellow singer June Carter Cash, was just 7-years-old when the unforgettable incident occurred.

“He took us in the Eastern Bloc,” the now 47-year-old artist said. “We got up and did a big show… the KGB had been guiding us the whole time. They were very nice, very kind.”

However, that would all change when the traveling family arrived at the border, ready to leave.

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“The border guards brought us all into a room together,” recalled John. “The doors were locked and this was a really empty room. And about 10 minutes, we were all in there, just quiet. Uncomfortable.”

The border guards would eventually enter the room and confront Johnny.

“[They] all came in and one at a time, like in a row, and they said, ‘Where are your instruments?’” said John. “Well, in the bus. And they said, ‘Go get your instruments.'”

The border guards patiently waited for Johnny and his band to retrieve their instruments. Then something unexpected happened and the mood suddenly lightened up.

“We put on a show for the guards!” said John, laughing. “They hardly cracked a smile until the songs were finished and then they were all smiling.”

The impromptu performance would have shaken any musician on the road, but the Man in Black didn’t seem to mind one bit.

“Dad was always willing to reach out however he needed to,” John boasted.

The beloved patriarch died in 2003 at age 71 from complications of diabetes.

Listen to John Carter Cash's entire "Children of Song" episode. You can download or stream the podcast from the Children of Song homepage or become a subscriber on Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Google Play or Stitcher.