By Sarah Wyland
When you are country music royalty, you travel like country music royalty.Johnny Cash’s tour bus, known as “J.C. Unit One,” is on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Assistant Curator Meredith Rutledge gave Great American Country’s Celebrity Motor Homes an inside look at one of the most luxurious coaches from Cash’s era. Johnny and his wife, June Carter Cash, spent more than $500,000 to customize their rolling space.
“The first time I walked into this bus, I really had a sense of the dignity — and a sense of the fun — that was had here,” Rutledge said. “It’s so amazing to be on this bus and to actually be in the places and touch the surfaces that not only Johnny and June, but Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, relaxed in. I really don’t have words for it because it’s such a thrill. There is so much history in this bus. You can feel it.”
J.C. Unit One features a front lounge, where Johnny and June entertained, and three private rooms. Since the rest of the bus was private, the lounge served as the only public space and a gathering area for the Cashes and their famous friends.
Cash’s private lounge lives up to his “Man In Black” moniker. The quarters are mostly black, lined with dark leather walls and dark upholstery. The compartment features a hickory wood table used by Ulysses S. Grant at his headquarters during the Civil War, on which Cash left his mark, a “C” carved into the wood table top.
Cash’s nickname for wife June was “Queen,” and her private quarters reflected her sovereign status. Called “The Royal Box,” the space was decorated in soft blues with white lace curtains, a design meant to reflect June’s upbringing in the Appalachian Mountains.
In contrast, the bus also features a modern, luxurious bathroom.