Gibbs Will Build On Higher Ground Near Cash House Foundation

This appeared in The Tennessean - April 17, 2007

Barry and Linda Gibb will build a new house near the original foundation of the former Hendersonville lake home of Johnny and June Carter Cash that burned last week.

"Linda and I have decided to build our own home on the higher ground surrounding the Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash home, and the original foundations shall be kept intact and preserved for the people of Hendersonville and the people of Nashville," Barry said in a prepared statement. The Gibbs bought the home, which Marty Stuart calls the Graceland of country music, from the Cash estate last year. Johnny and June died in 2003.

"This land is sacred land to all of us here and must be protected forever. To the Cash Carter families we owe the highest respect and the deepest regret that our dream could not be realized. Now there is a new dream for us and a new beginning."

It's not yet clear when construction will begin.

On Thursday, the Gibbs had a four-hour dinner in a private room at the Palm with a group that included Marty and his wife, Connie Smith, Oak Ridge Boys, Ricky Skaggs and T.G. Sheppard. Barry told each person individually of his plans.

"I hugged his neck, and that was the first thing out of his mouth: 'I'm not going anywhere,' " says Marty. "I said, 'That is the best news you could have given me.' I can't say enough nice things about him. What a deep and warm-hearted man, the epitome of dignity.

"I couldn't blame Barry if he were to cut and run, count his losses and run away. This speaks volumes about the kind of man he is. His vision and his dream, I support it 100 percent.

"In truth, there are people walking the land already wanting to chop it up and make money and build disposable houses up through there, and that's a heartbreaking thought within itself. Barry has the heart and soul of the matter at hand. He is there to honor the tradition of the place and at the same time create a new future for it. I couldn't be happier to know that they will be our neighbors."

Oak Ridge Boy Joe Bonsall says Barry is an international icon, so he can truly appreciate Johnny in a way that few others can. "To have another great icon who has an understanding of John, an understanding of the legendary status, an understanding of the musical history," Joe says. "Barry is a historian."

Like Johnny, Barry has penned some of the biggest songs of his generation, Joe says. (Barry wrote the title track for the movie Grease, and co-wrote "Stayin' Alive" and "Islands in the Stream" with brothers and fellow Bee Gees Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb.)

Unfortunately, Joe says, also like Johnny, Barry has experienced his own tragedy with the death of his two brothers. "What a sweet-spirited guy this is, and a tremendous talent."

"He told me and my wife, Mary, that he wasn't going to build atop the hallowed ground. He was going to still build here and be here. He was going to preserve the hallowed ground and even build a moment to June and Johnny there. That was pretty touching."

Thursday's dinner brought tears, laughter and music. "We ended up doing a little circle singing," Joe says. "Everybody sang 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken' in honor of June and Johnny, and we sang the gospel song 'God Will Take Care of You.'

"It was a magical time. It was something we all needed, as great friends of John, and something Barry needed because he wanted to be surrounded by some friends and neighbors."

By Beverly Keel

Return To Articles Return To Home Page