Keeping things authentic is the key to success in these types of ventures, says Cash's son, John Carter Cash, who helps oversee his father's thriving estate.
Cash's image, story and music still produce millions of dollars a year for his heirs. But John Carter Cash says he must remain vigilant in business dealings so that he honors what would have been his father's wishes. For instance, Cash's likeness wasn't used for alcohol and tobacco while he was alive and that hasn't changed after his death. But authenticity isn't the only driver for Cash's posthumous success.
"It's also that mystery that is so appealing to people," Cash said. "Music is timeless. I believe also in the Waylon, as you say, brand — I don't know if that is the right word. It's his character and his spirit carrying on. No matter what we do as a family in the decision-making, that was all set forth by the person — Waylon, my dad, whoever they may be. And No. 1 to me is to be respectful. Not to exploit. That's most important. I'd rather not get the deal — and I've turned many down — because I felt like it exploited him."
Initially, Colter and Jennings had little stomach for the business side of Jennings' legacy. The singer always adhered to a different beat when it came to business dealings and managers, and it took some time for his family to deal with the loss emotionally.
The Country Hall of Fame member died when his youngest son was just 22. At the time, Shooter Jennings had no interest in preserving his father's image. Over time, though, he has come to feel his father deserves a place in the American popular culture discussion.
"A lot of it is maybe where I am in my life, with my kids and everything," said Jennings, who has a daughter and son (also named for Waylon). "I'm at a place where I really appreciate my dad and I really appreciate his part of my life and my kids knowing who he is even though he'd never met them. I felt like I'd grown into a place where it was time for me to take over getting his name back out there in the right way."
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