Historic Pasco County: Johnny Cash and Port Richey

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Many famous figures from all across the media landscape have either called the Tampa Bay area home, or at least spent a great deal of time here. In other articles, we have detailed the area’s connections to such stars as Hulk Hogan, Derek Jeter, Gallagher, and many more. Now we present the area’s connection to The Man In Black himself, Johnny Cash.

Johnny Cash married June Carter in 1968. June’s parents, Ezra J. and Maybelle Carter had moved to Port Richey, Florida in 1962. Port Richey, for those unfamiliar with the area, is a short drive north from Tampa and St. Petersburg, and a little south of our office in neighboring Hernando County. In recent years, it has become a fairly thriving area, as those who want the amenities offered by the city without the headaches that come with it have flocked there.

Johnny Cash used to spend time periodically with his in-laws at their home when not on tour. When they passed away, June inherited the home, and it became one of several homes the Cash family split time between. Mr. Cash said it best in his autobiography:

I’m part gypsy, part homebody, so I live according to a rhythm alien to most people but natural to me, splitting my time on a semi-predictable basis between my big house on Old Hickory Lake just outside Nashville; my farm at Bon Aqua, farther outside Nashville; the house in Port Richey, Florida, that June inherited from her parents; an endless succession of hotels all over the world; my bus; and my house in Jamaica, Cinnamon Hill.”

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They came to be very attached to the area. Cash took up fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. The family made friends in the area, such as Des Little, who Cash visited on his forty-first wedding anniversary, an event that would find its way onto the pages of the Pasco Times. Cash thought highly of the area, though, as this passage from his autobiography shows, he did not think highly of the heat of a Florida summer:

“Here you have the tide, the meeting of freshwater with salt, the seabirds and marsh birds and land birds. The weather cooks up its sudden subtropical tempests out over the horizon or, on the landward side, takes the whole afternoon to build one of those immense, imposing fortresses of thunderheads, and then, as afternoon begins its long transition to evening, turns the whole towering edifice purple-gray and brings it all tumbling and crashing down on you, transforming everything into wind and water. Mostly that’s a summer treat, so I don’t experience it very often, for like other nonnatives with enough money and sense, we go elsewhere during Florida’s months of eighty percent humidity. Whenever I see it, though, it always makes me marvel: at the sheer scale, power, beauty, and complexity of God’s creation, at the simplicity and strength of my human root in nature.”

The Cash family would sell the Port Richey home, after years of creating memories and deep connections with people all around the area, in May of 2002, just months before Johnny Cash passed away at the age of 71. Cash, along with his wife June, left a legacy of fond memories and lives they touched through their actions. There are few celebrities as universally loved as Johnny Cash, and if you asked they residents of Port Richey, Florida, they could give you special insight as to why that is.


Photo by The Art of York Berlin

Photo by Daquella manera