CASH RIDES AGAIN

Johnny Cash returned to the spotlight last night, a year after illness kept him from performing. “My first time on stage in 19 months,” Cash said Tuesday night at Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom at the climax of a concert that paid tribute to his work. “It feels good, it feels good, it feels good.” He appeared tanned, and his baritone was as sturdy as ever, though his hair was thinner than when he last appeared in public. There had been some question as to whether or not he’d ever make it on stage again. Cash, 67, has Shy-Drager Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that causes progressive damage to the nervous system.

  • TNT taped the all-star show, which featured Willie Nelson, U2, Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris and Wyclef Jean, for a special to air April 18. Cash’s appearance was unannounced. All seven of Cash’s children attended Tuesday’s taping. His wife, June Carter Cash, sang “Ring of Fire” and remembered writing it with Johnny when they fell in love. “He was kind of scary at that time,” she said. Each performer paid sartorial tribute to “The Man in Black” by dressing in that color.
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