Tour Johnny Cash’s tour bus for a limited time at the Ryman

Johnny Cash used JC Unit One for just over two decades from 1980 to 2003.

An exterior shot of the back of the tour bus, showing a license plate that reads, "JCASH1."

The new addition to Ryman tours comes as part of the Mother Church’s ongoing partnership with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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Calling all Nashville groupies. You can now live out your Penny Lane era with a tour of Johnny Cash’s former bus at Ryman Auditorium.

In an ongoing partnership with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Ryman is offering daily walk throughs (with the purchase of admission) of The Man in Black’s JC Unit One tour bus — which the star used from 1980 until 2003. Pro tip: Be prepared to “Walk the Line;" the layout calls for a single file stroll front to back.

A view from the front of the bus, down the hallway to the back showing a microwave and TV combo built into the wall.

The mahogany wood for the paneling and doors in Cash’s compartment was secretly milled on the Cash estate in Jamaica.

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‘Bout the bus

Cash began his career traveling in private cars before switching to motor homes, neither of which were long-lasting, as his popularity took off. By 1979, he purchased the shell of a 40-ft bus and took it to a successful motor coach customizer.

Between the frame and the bus’ transformation, it’s estimated that Cash spent over $553,000 in 1980. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that comes out to ~$2.1 million today — meaning you could buy nearly 40,000 Ryman concert tickets for a lifetime supply of shows.

The bus was sold in July 2003 to Eldon Wright, gospel singer and founder of the American Heritage Music Foundation. This was two months after June Carter Cash died and four months before Johnny.

Two blue velvet sofa beds line each side of the wall in the back of the bus and a TV sits on a small stand between them.

The back compartment (pictured here) was John Carter Cash’s private compartment.

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Fascinating facts

  • All of the closets were lined with cedar to make them insect- and mold-proof.
  • Cash’s personal compartment was made with hickory wood from the family’s Tennessee farm, which was also used as General Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters during the Civil War.
  • A rotisserie oven was installed in the kitchenette due to his love for barbecue.
  • June Carter Cash decorated her personal compartment using a blue color scheme to reflect the parlor of the home she grew up in.

Tours of the bus are available through Spring 2024 — book now.

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