Rare photos recently revealed by the National Library of Israel show American country musician Johnny Cash during his visit to Israel in 1971, giving a black-and-white sneak peek at the glamorous reception he received in the country.
Cash was in Israel with his wife, June Carter Cash, to film their movie Gospel Road: A Story of Jesus. The film was narrated by Cash himself and includes scenes of him singing from the top of Mount Arbel. Other Israeli landmarks in the film include the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River, but despite their prominence the film did not end up becoming a box-office hit.
Cash’s 1971 visit to Israel was the third one – out of five – for the star. A devout Christian, he had previously visited the country in 1966 on a private religious pilgrimage, and then again with Carter Cash in 1968. That trip inspired a Christian-themed concept album called The Holy Land.
On the 1971 trip, the Cashes were treated to a lavish reception in Jerusalem where the newly discovered photos were taken, revealing a bygone-era replete with fancy dinnerware, black-tied waiters and floral wallpaper.
The photos were discovered by accident when the National Library’s social media manager sifted through photos from the library’s Dan Hadani Archive in search of images of Israeli pop star Tzvika Pik.
Pik, it turns out, attended the reception held in Cash’s honor, and so the episode was saved from obscurity.