Goosebumps alert: Watch Thomas Gabriel conjure up the ghost of his grandfather Johnny Cash with an eerily familiar cover of Folsom Prison Blues

Thomas Gabriel singing
(Image credit: Thomas Gabriel)

Country singer Thomas Gabriel, the eldest grandson of the legendary Johnny Cash, has released a video in which he performs the classic Folsom Prison Blues, revealing a voice that's eerily similar to his grandfather's.

The video was shot at Cash Cabin, a log cabin built at Cash's compound in Hendersonville, TN, in 1979. The cabin was designed to give the singer some respite from his business dealings, and Cash recorded several tracks on his iconic American Recordings series of albums there. 

During Gabriel's sessions at the cabin, he also filmed versions of Cash's I Still Miss Someone and the traditional Ain't No Grave, which Cash recorded shortly before his death in 2003. He was joined by guitarists Justin Johnson and John Carter Cash, the only child of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.

"This week marked 20 years since my grandfather has passed," Gabriel wrote in September. "Something that seems more surreal than fact. I’ve missed his voice giving wisdom, I’ve missed his voice scolding me for being less than my potential. 

"I miss his sense of humour, I miss his love for nature, I miss him being the man that lived truth. He was truth. Even if that truth was disguised as reckless abandon, or dark obscurity. It was truth and I respected him greatly for it. He taught, he shared, he loved, he listened, he thought before he spoke. He had a way of navigating life like no other man I’ve known. 

"I loved him dearly, but rarely told him. I love having the chance to still connect with him in a way that he preferred, songs."

Folsom Prison Blues was originally recorded by Cash in 1955, but is most well-known as the opening track on his 1965 live album At Folsom Prison, famously recorded before an audiences of inmates. In 2018, to mark the 50th anniversary of the album's release, Gabriel performed the song at Folsom Prison himself. 

“It was surreal," Gabriel told RadarOnline. "I’ve sung Folsom Prison Blues a million times and I’ve heard it my entire life. And to be singing it and looking around and realising your right in the middle of Folsom Prison while singing it to the inmates who live in Folsom Prison – it was very emotional."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.