Johnny Cash arrested in Starkville

May 12th, 1965 -

Johnny Cash arrested in Starkville

50 Years Ago today, on May 11, 1965, Johnny Cash was arrested in Starkville Mississippi following a performance at the Mississippi State University. Cash was charged with public drunkenness after being caught in a local resident's garden picking flowers.

"I reached down and picked a dandelion here and a daisy there as I went along, and this car pulls up."

He spent the night in a jail cell and later wrote the song "Starkville City Jail" about the incident. Apparently, Cash shared his cell that night with a 15-year-old man named Smokey Evans. After kicking the cell wall so hard that he broke his toe, Cash took off his shoes and gave them to the 15 year old, saying, "Here’s a souvenir. I’m Johnny Cash."

In 1969, before singing "Starkville City Jail" to the inmates at San Quentin Jail, Cash recounted the experience:

"You wouldn't believe it, one night I got in jail in Starkville Mississippi for picking flowers. I was walking down the street ... and uh, you know, going to get me some cigarettes or something. 'Bout two in the morning, after a show. I think it was. Anyway, I reached down and picked a dandelion here and a daisy there as I went along, and this car pulls up. He said, 'Get it the hell in here boy, what are you doing?' I said, 'I'm just picking flowers.' Well, thirty six dollars for picking flowers and a night in jail. You can't hardly win can ya? No telling what they'd do if you pull an apple or something ... I'd like to get back at the fella down in Starkville Mississippi...that still has my thirty six dollars."

Listen below to Cash's current single from 1965 - "It Ain't Me Babe".


Gaslight Records is a way of reviving and reliving the music of 50 Years Ago. Unlike any other music site, everything you'll hear or read about on Gaslight Records will be sourced from music that is at least 50 years old.

Follow Gaslight Records on Facebook so you never miss a post.