Sad, man, just sad. He is one of the very few country artists I actually liked, and I think it says something when just about every music genre can count you as an influence. 'Man in Black' Johnny Cash dead at 71 Singer a towering figure in music history By Todd Leopold CNN Friday, September 12, 2003 Posted: 12:53 PM EDT (1653 GMT) (CNN) -- He was a poor sharecropper's son from Kingsland, Arkansas, who sang to himself while picking cotton in the fields -- then later sang to millions through recordings, concerts and his late-'60s TV variety show. He became a country music statesman who found a home with rap-rock producer Rick Rubin's American Recordings. He was called the "Man in Black," who once sang "I shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die," but opened his concerts with the friendly, modest greeting, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash." Johnny Cash -- legend, model, icon -- died Friday. He was 71. Cash died of complications from diabetes at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, hospital spokeswoman Nicole Bates said. He had just been released Tuesday after entering the hospital August 28 with an undisclosed stomach ailment. He returned to the hospital Thursday. Cash's wife of 35 years, June Carter Cash, died May 15. Perhaps the most widely recognized voice in country music, Cash recorded more than 1,500 songs. His career spanned more than four decades with trademark hits like "A Boy Named Sue," "Folsom Prison Blues, "Ring of Fire" and "I Walk the Line." His success crossed well over onto the pop scene. He had 48 singles on Billboard's pop charts, rivaling both the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys. His 11 Grammys included a lifetime achievement award and the 1998 Grammy for country album of the year ("Unchained"). It's said that more than 100 other recording artists and groups have recorded "I Walk the Line." "Johnny Cash was not only a giant in our business, but he was one of those guys who had grown to become a cultural icon in American," Ed Benson, executive director of the Country Music Association, told WTVF-TV in Nashville. "People associated him with values that I think they held near and dear to their hearts." "I am deeply saddened by the loss of my children's grandfather and my very dear friend," added singer and songwriter Rodney Crowell, who was once married to Cash's daughter Rosanne, in a statement. "I loved big John with all my heart. ... Johnny Cash will, like Will Rogers, stand forever as a symbol of intelligence, creativity, compassion and common sense."