Johnny Cash in Stanthorpe by Michael McRae



Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash with former Blue Nursing Supervisor Pat Neilsen and administrator Peter Lee.


On this day 12th September 20 years ago the world mourned the death of American singer and songwriter Johnny Cash who gave us hits including Riders in the Sky, Folsom Prison Blues, A Boy Named Sue, Ring of Fire and many more.

Did you know that 32 years ago there was a sold-out concert by the Cash family - Johnny, wife June Carter-Cash and son John Carter-Cash at the Stanthorpe Civic Centre and it raised about $10,000 for the Stanthorpe Blue Nurses.

Originally in the country on tour with The Highwaymen (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson), Cash took time out to visit Stanthorpe and play to the crowd of 585 people at the Civic Centre.

Tasked with pulling the concert together was Stanthorpe Blue Nurses administrator Peter Lee.

"John's heart specialist in the USA, Dr Con Potanin, was married to Ann, the daughter of Clem and Lulu Fletcher," Peter said.

The Fletchers retired to 'Ninatop', a grazing property at Liston. During visits, Johnny and June fell in love with the district and nearly purchased their own property.

For a number of years, the nursing sisters provided medical care to Clem and Lulu. It was owing to this that Johnny and June felt indebted to the service.

"Over breakfast one morning John, in his American drawl, said 'I'd like to do somethin' for the Blue Nurses'. In other words stage a concert as a fundraiser," Peter said.

With two weeks' notice, Peter managed to get it all organised to have Johnny play a sit down lunch where patrons could have a meal and enjoy the show.

"A once in a lifetime opportunity," Peter said.

"I don't think people could believe we could get a superstar like that to put on a concert, he (Johnny) initiated it and we took it from there."

The residents and clients of Blue Nursing Service who could not attend the show weren't to miss out either.

"John and June paid a visit to the Ardmore Centre and entertained them all with an impromptu concert."

Some years later the couple paid yet another visit to Stanthorpe and made sure they stopped by the centre one final time.

· We thank the Courier Mail and the Border Mail for picture and details of the Cash Concert.

· Michael McRae is managing editor of Coastline Newspaper Group.