Chad Champion at 15.
In the summer of 1987 at the young age of 15, I moved to Hendersonville, TN. Hendersonville is located about 20 miles northeast of Nashville. I didn't know anything about Hendersonville. However my mother kept on telling me that lots of country musicians lived there....."Great!" was my silent sarcastic reply. "Who cares about country music?" As a young punk teenager, I was more interested in the classic hair bands of the 1980s like Van Halen, Motley Crue, Poison, Def Leppard, Guns-n-Roses, ACDC, KISS, and others. But, my mother was right, Hendersonville was home to quite a few well known musicians like Conway Twitty, Roy Orbison, The Oak Ridge Boys, and the most famous, Johnny Cash. I didn't know much about Johnny Cash. In fact at the time I couldn't tell you any of his songs, but I clearly remember watching him Saturday evenings on TV with my grandmother.

As we settled in Hendersonville, my mother soon got a job as a Home Health Nurse. One day she told me that one of her visits was to go Johnny Cash's home to take care of his mother. I remember thinking how cool that was. She ended up visiting the house a handful of times. While she never meet Johnny, Johnny's mother, Carrie, and other members of the family were very nice to her.

One day my mother sent me out to the grocery store to pick up a few items. As I walked into the produce section of the Hendersonville Kroger.....there he was.....The Man in Black himself.....and yes he was dressed in black from head to toe. And June was with him as well. Yes, they were grocery shopping just like anyone else. Who would have thought? I froze. My heart went pitter patter. While Johnny was known to be 6 foot 2, that day to me he could have been 8 foot tall. He was quite the imposing figure and swallowed the whole place up. I knew at that point in time I had to shake his hand. I went over to him and said "Hello, Mr. Cash." He turned around gave me a big smile, nodded his head, and said "Hello, young man." We quickly shook hands, and I walked away. I really didn't know what to say after that. While the whole experience may have lasted 5 seconds, I'll never forget it for the rest of my life.

26 years later, my taste in music has incredibly changed. I am a huge fan of Johnny's music, and I am also the lead singer of a Johnny Cash Tribute Band, The Folsom Prison Gang. Funny how life changes. It makes me appreciate that moment even more.
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