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Upcoming Johnny Cash auction to include the Man in Black's iconic clothes

November 30, 2010 |  1:30 pm


With "Crazy Heart" taking home two Academy Awards earlier this year, and Gwyneth Paltrow set to open in "Country Strong" -- a country and western movie in which she stars and sings -- it's clear that there's a growing appetite for all things country (and don't even get me started on FarmVille.)

So it will be interesting to watch how much cash buyers fork over for some of the personal effects of the late country music legend Johnny Cash, which go up for bid on Sunday at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills.

The items in the auction span the singer-songwriter's lengthy career and include hand-penned lyrics (such as an alternate version of "Don't Take Your Guns to Town"), notes and letters from celebrity friends (Bruce Springsteen and Kirk Douglas among them) and three of his well-loved, oft-played guitars.

Long known as the Man in Black because of his penchant for wearing solid black on stage, it's the pieces from Cash's wardrobe that are among the most interesting: among them his Air Force uniform, two of his trademark black suits and a stage outfit designed for him by famed rodeo tailor Nudie Cohn in the mid-'70s that includes black trousers and a black western shirt with red and blue appliqued stars spangled across the yolk and collar.

As a life-long Johnny Cash fan (he was my first concert experience -- at the Washington County Fairgrounds in upstate New York at the tender age of 7), my favorite outfit up for auction has to be the blue jumpsuit Cash wore during the rehearsal performance for his live at San Quentin album at the California prison in February 1969.

It's not because the blue denim jumpsuit, with brass zipper accents at the shoulders, pant legs and breast pockets is particularly fashionable, but because, according to Julien's Auctions, it's what Cash was wearing when rock photographer Jim Marshall captured him in full rebel mode -- arm fully extended toward the camera, defiantly flipping the world the bird.

That famous black-and-white photograph did much to cement the pop culture legacies of both men, which makes the jumpsuit (starting bid $1,500) that much more of a draw.

And even if you're not interested in owning a piece of the Johnny Cash legacy but still want to see some of it up close, a free public exhibition culled from the collection continues through Thursday at Julien's Auctions, 9665 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 150, Beverly Hills (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

Bidding for the actual auction (which starts at 10 a.m. PST on Sunday) can be done either online or in person, additional details available online at the website.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: Wardrobe pieces up for auction include (from left) a custom-made Nudie suit, a custom ensemble that includes a turquoise shirt made by Anto of Beverly Hills and black trousers, one of Cash's signature black suits and the jumpsuit Cash was wearing during rehearsals for his San Quentin concert. Credit: Julien's Auctions