Here's the Story Behind Johnny Cash's Most Badass Photograph

The ultimate country bad boy would have been 86 today.
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(Photo: Jim Marshall)

(Photo: Jim Marshall)

In honor of Johnny Cash's birthday, let's take a look back at his most iconic photo—that shot of Cash flipping the bird at his 1969 San Quentin State Prison concert. 

Photographer Jim Marshall captured the famous one-fingered salute after asking the country legend to demonstrate what he thought of prison authorities during the show, recorded for Cash's live album, At San Quentin.  

Johnny Cash outside Folsom Prison

"I said, 'John, let's do a shot for the warden'," prompting Cash to give the camera the finger, he recalled in an interview with the San Francisco Art Exchange before his death in 2010. 

Marshall added that the famous picture was "probably the most ripped off photograph in the history of the world." 

As we dutifully mark Cash's 86th, remember country music's biggest badass with five of his greatest live performances:  

"I Walk the Line" - Live from Town Hall Party, 1958

"Folsom Prison Blues" - Live from Town Hall Party, 1959

"San Quentin" - Live from San Quentin State Prison, 1969

"A Boy Named Sue" - Live from Denmark, 1971 

"Ring of Fire " - Live from Montreux Jazz Festival, 1994