Johnny Cash is back and showing at QUAD in Derby in August in the multi award winning film My Father And The Man in Black; a dramatised documentary showing the life of the man behind the iconic ‘Man in Black’ who until now had been airbrushed out of pop history.
The suicide of Saul Holiff – the father of the film’s director Jonathan Holiff and who steered Johnny Cash to greatness – was the catalyst for his son’s trawl through Saul’s personal archives in a bid to find the reasons for his emotionally distant father.
Though his Svengali-like management touch is unquestioned, his paternal skills leave more than a little to be desired – father and son had been estranged for 20 years before Saul took his own life without leaving a note.
There then follows a detective story to trace the lock to a set of keys and it is in a storage facility in Toronto we find the treasure trove Cash fans have waited decades to discover.
Saul Holiff, when he wasn’t on tour with Cash, which would regularly take up months of the year, would treat his sons more like business associates than children. They were made to sign contracts binding them to good behaviour and even received itemised bills for their upbringing, to be repaid from a trust fund Saul set up for his children!
My Father and the Man In Black offers the first new insight into the life and demons of the country legend since he died a decade ago.
Six years in the making, this new look at Johnny Cash, through the eyes of his manager, is driven by newly-discovered audio diaries and telephone calls recorded by Holiff and Cash in the 60s and 70s.
An intense personal adventure with universal themes, My Father and The Man In Black tells the inside story of ‘bad boy’ Johnny Cash, his talented but troubled manager, and a son searching for his father in the shadow of a legend.
For the first time we have eyewitness accounts, in their own voice, about what really happened to Johnny Cash and Saul Holiff in the 1960s, a decade the singer admitted he could not remember, as well as the early 1970s when Cash was “born again” (the ending missing from Walk The Line).
Saul Holiff handled the bookings and the no-shows, the divorce and the marriage, the arrests and the trials. He was there for the absolute worst of times. Holiff was also there for the best of times: “Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison,” “A Boy Named Sue,” and Cash’s hit television series. But in 1973, at the zenith of Cash’s career, Holiff quit. And until now, no one knew why.
Jonathan Holiff returned home to help his mother deal with Saul’s belongings. That’s when he discovered his father’s storage locker. Inside were hundreds of letters, many hand-written, between Saul, Johnny, and June together with 60 hours of personal audio diaries Saul recorded from the early 1960s until shortly before his death.
Saul taped his telephone calls with Johnny too. Saul detailed their experiences, as they happened, during the singer’s darkest days, through his meteoric rise to stardom, and finally during their shocking break-up.
My Father and The Man In Black screens at QUAD in Derby from August 2-8.
Tickets are: £7.60 or £6 concessions and can be purchased by calling QUAD box office on 01332 290606 or by visiting http://www.derbyquad.co.uk/film/my-father-and-man-black-15