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It was July 7, 1956, the night of his Grand Ole Opry debut, when a young Johnny Cash bumped into fellow country singer June Carter tuning her guitar backstage at Ryman Auditorium.
A smitten 24-year-old Cash reportedly told Carter that night he knew he was going to marry her someday. A mutual infatuation blossomed, and 13 years and countless performances later, the couple was married. They continued to perform at the Ryman throughout their careers and were together until Carter's death in 2003. Cash died just four months later.
In celebration of the 65th anniversary of the legendary couple's first exchange, the Ryman is hosting a special pop-up exhibit featuring artifacts from both the Ryman and Johnny Cash Museum collections.
The Johnny & June pop-up experience opened July 7 and will run through September 26. Items on display include a Mario Cuevas suit belonging to Cash and a long cream dress worn by Carter. The collection also features an Oscar Schmidt autoharp that belonged to Carter's mother, Maybelle, and Cash's handwritten lyrics to "Flesh and Blood," written on the back of a Hendersonville Jr. High newsletter, Tennessean reports. Guests can also visit a special plaque marking the spot where the couple met backstage.
"We are so thrilled to team up with our local partners at the Johnny Cash Museum to celebrate one of Country Music's most iconic love stories," Gary Levy, Ryman Auditorium General Manager, said in a news release. "Johnny and June have such a strong connection to the Ryman, and we are excited to share these beautiful artifacts alongside the Johnny Cash Museum, which has the most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world."
The Johnny & June pop-up exhibit will be available as part of the Ryman daytime tour experience beginning July 7. Johnny Cash Museum and the Ryman have teamed up to offer a ticket bundle for self-guided tours of both the Ryman and Cash Museum (a four-minute walk away) for $40. Tickets are available at Ryman.com/johnny-and-june.