Johnny Cash is released from the hospital. His two-week stay kept him from picking up a trophy at MTV's Video Music Awards

By Gary Susman
Updated October 01, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Johnny Cash
Credit: Johnny Cash: Michael Putland/Retna

It was a cruel irony that Johnny Cash was too ill to attend the MTV Video Music Awards last month to accept honors for ”Hurt,” a video that matter-of-factly confronts the 71-year-old singer’s physical frailty. On the eve of the ceremony, Cash was hospitalized for pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. After two weeks, he was released from a Nashville hospital on Tuesday and returned to his Tennessee home. He issued a belated acceptance speech on Wednesday, saying in a statement: ”I’m excited about my video ‘Hurt’ winning the MTV cinematography award. The making of the video was a great experience for me.”

The Best Cinematography prize was the video’s only win out of six nominations. Justin Timberlake, who won Best Pop Video, said in his acceptance speech that it was a travesty that he’d beaten Cash, who he said had been an idol of his since childhood. ”He got a big kick out of what Justin said. He was very appreciative,” Cash’s manager, Lou Robin, told E! Online.

Cash has been in and out of hospitals a lot in recent years, suffering from autonomic neuropathy, a neurological ailment that makes him susceptible to pneumonia. (The pancreatitis was not related to his neuropathy, Robin said.) Nonetheless, Cash is working on another album, the fifth in his Rick Rubin-produced ”American Recordings” series. ”He’s feeling much better and looking forward to coming to California sometime next week to finish his album,” Robin said. ”He and Rick will be spending a couple of weeks at Rick’s studio listening and going through the 52 tracks Johnny has already put down,” ultimately choosing 16 for the album, due early next year.