Glenrothes man Alex: The day I met the ‘man in black’

Alex Lawson, who met Johnny Cash in Falkland in 1981. Picture by Fife Photo Agency.
Alex Lawson, who met Johnny Cash in Falkland in 1981. Picture by Fife Photo Agency.

People have been blowing the dust off old LPs as a wave of Johnny Cash nostalgia sweeps through Glenrothes – all thanks to the Gazette.

For the front page, featuring the music legend – published on January 27 – has triggered fond memories for many of the readers who have contacted the paper to tell of their love for the ‘man in black’.

And none more so than Glenrothes resident Alex Lawson who not only recalls meeting his hero when he visited Falkland Palace in October 1981, but claims to be the man lurking in the background of our front page photograph.

“I remember that day well, I heard that he was in Falkland, so ducked work to head over there and just happened to find the great Johnny standing by himself by the big fountain, dressed all in black,” recalls Alex.

“He asked who I was in his deep voice, and I answered just a fan – we shook hands, exchanged a few salutations, and he said ‘see you in the rose garden’. I was truly gobsmaked; he had a real superstar presence yet was more than willing to take time to speak to me.”

The singer was in Fife to film his Christmas TV special with fellow singer Andy Williams and had personally chosen the location because of his close ancestral links with the Kingdom.

Alex got to watch the entire filming before returning to work, but was unable to tell colleagues his tale because of his unplanned absence.

“Even my wife didn’t seem to believe me until she saw me and Johnny shaking hands on the evening news,“ he laughs.

“My colleagues would never have known, but for a sales rep who a few weeks later, looked at me, pointed, and said ‘I saw you with Johnny Cash on the TV’. The office staff were quite stunned I think.”

Organisers hoping to create a Johnny Cash tribute event as part of the Go Glenrothes campaign – a volunteer-based initiative to make the town a go-to destination – have been given a massive boost after the daughter of the legendary singer gave her endorsement for the event.

Rosanne Cash made contact with the Glenrothes Gazette to offer her support after reading the newspaper’s story online.

The ‘official’ seal of approval from Rosanne, who has offered to “help in any way she can”, has been welcomed by volunteers.

“It’s fantastic to hear that Rosanne knows about what we are planning to do and that she has offered her support, which we are extremely grateful for,” said Leslie Bain, Go Glenrothes co-chairman.