One of the coolest photo documents I’ve had the pleasure to appraise was Johnny Cash’s driver’s license. It was issued to the rock and roll legend in 1964 and remained valid until his 35th birthday in February of 1967. Johnny Cash carried this well-worn ID through some of the most turbulent years of his life, a time plagued by excessive drug use, arrests, extramarital affairs and other conflicts, including his highly publicized incarceration for smuggling amphetamines out of Juarez, Mexico, and an incident in which his camper caught fire during a fishing trip and burned several hundred acres of the Los Padres National Forest. When questioned by the judge as to why he had started the fire, Cash reportedly said, “I didn’t do it, my truck did, and it’s dead, so you can’t question it.” Things eventually began to look up for Cash though as evidenced by the hit single “Jackson” which was released only a few weeks before the license expired and which Cash recorded with the love of his life, June Carter, whom he would later marry that same year.
The license was featured on the History Channel television series Pawn Stars and subsequently on an episode of the Late Show with David Letterman before being sold at Julien’s Auctions for $4,480.