A Contract: Part Three


In October 1961, Bob Neal (Cash's manager before Stew Carnall), wrote to Cash in an attempt to persuade the singer to rehire him, but it is clear by Cash's response that Holiff had made himself invaluable by this point. To Neal, Cash openly praised his Canadian promoter, writing that Holiff "has done a great deal on my behalf, namely he has a date practically set for me in Carnegie Hall, with the college circuit to follow. Also, he went with me to New York about three weeks ago and raised a lot of hell on my behalf resulting in a relationship with Columbia Records that is and has been needed for a long time. I honestly think things are really going to swing now."

Listen to Saul Holiff tell the story about meeting Johnny Cash for the first time: 


But it was not until November, on a Maritime tour that included a moose hunt as a publicity stunt for Field and Stream, that Cash finally asked Holiff to be his manager. Cash was forced to leave the tour suddenly to see his family because his wife had called him in a panic about mountain lions (or snakes--accounts of the story differ) in the hills around their house in the Californian countryside. When he returned a few days later, he presented Holiff with a management agreement that he had written on the plane. According to Holiff, Cash landed in Newfoundland, "got off the plane, had some coffee-stained yellow legal-sized stationary with a deal that he had written out, and he asked me to be his manager." They shook on it. 

In mid-December, Cash circulated a memo announcing Holiff as his manager:

"I would like to authorize whoever may be concerned (in activities on my behalf) to supply him with access to or copies of anything relevant to my activities in any sphere whatsoever. [. . .] I hope that you will extend such courtesies to him as you would to me personally."


Both Cash and Holiff seem to have felt optimistic about their partnership. Holiff wrote to Cash on December 27, "I'm so pleased with your new attitude toward our future plans [. . .] I sincerely believe that you are capable of great things -- far in excess of what you have accomplished up to date." Cash, for his part, expressed a similar excitement to Barbara Robinson, Holiff's girlfriend, in an undated letter from around this time: "I feel that my association with Saul the past few months is the foundation for the new lease on life I have found. As a matter of fact, I know it...Not only have I begun to enjoy life but I am happy and excited about the way I think my career is ZOOMING."  

Cash would later even write to the United States Consulate on Holiff's behalf regarding his American visa application. The letter, from 30 April 1962, indicates how Cash felt about Holiff's role in his career at this point: "His services rendered to me are unique and extraordinary and call for great depth, training and background in the field of management and promotion. I would be most willing to assume complete responsibility for Mr. Holiff if he was granted immigration status in the United States."

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