In the course of my efforts helping homeless in Southern California I came across a fellow, thin, old and hirsute. A long grey pony tail leaking from under a worn Stetson. A bi racial gentleman of advanced years. He had a guitar, a Takamine with a bullet hole in it. (About the size of a 9mm round.) And despite advanced arthritis evident in his fingers, this old grey haired arthritic man played a song for me. Which earned him $5. All the money I had in my pocket. Even though it was a mumbled Gospel song and I am not a fan of the genre. I mentioned that he sounded like the love child of Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. He told me, “Johnny Cash was my cousin.” Matter of factly. Not looking for any reply. After giving him the $5, I left. And that was that.
Much later I took a call from one of my Nashville musician friends, Tommy Mancuso, looking for some help in selling a song he had produced. A song called Bowling Green, written and performed by a relative of Johnny Cash. After putting two and two together, the stetson, the grey pony tail, the gnarly arthritic fingers and the bullet hole in a Takamine guitar, I realized it was the same guy. Nolan Cash. The story Tommy told me about his life and the song he had recorded had me intrigued, and I was only too pleased to help in releasing Nolan’s song. Along the way, I had several meetings with Nolan, who asked me to write his biography. So here it is. My first authorized Biography. Brief, as Nolan requested. Reverential in its praise for Jesus, as Nolan insisted.
About the authorized biography of Nolan Cash (Video version.)
Nolan Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas, on October 8th, 1939, 7 years after his cousin Johnny. The bi-racial child product of rape by a Black man of a 16 year old Christian girl in America’s conservative Bible Belt, he experienced prejudice growing up during the racially divided fifties.
Helped with lessons in singing and guitar playing by his older cousin, Nolan found success early in Country music. Recruited at 15 as member of the Kingsland Singers, the first all-Black Country group to sing at the Grand ole Opry, before his opportunity for Country music greatness arrived in 1957 when he witnessed the racially motivated church massacre at Bowling Green.
An event that would change his life in a way that might have come straight from the pages of a Hollywood Political thriller featuring an octogenarian Republican senator and senior Klan wizard suffering from dementia, committed to fomenting racial discord to bring back the good ole opportunities the South lost in that travesty called abolition.
Only the recent 50 year disclosure of official CIA secret documents and the investigative research of a resourceful Vanderbilt journalism major enabled the facts to finally emerge. The real reason why the massacre at Bowling Green was expunged from the history books and why Nolan Cash spent 33 years in Folsom prison.
Sixty years later, at last the story can be told. Nolan Cash, collateral damage in Americas racist growing pains. Bowling Green, where 100 people died in a massacre carried out by 8 Black Muslim men, misled by an octogenarian wealthy and influential Christian Republican Southerner with a slave owners background and a racist agenda, looking to start a race war and see the South rise again.
Audio book available on Amazon
Enjoy the YouTube mastered recording of Bowling Green, sung by Nolan Cash HERE