Motorcycle links fan of Johnny Cash to museum
Michael Lichter photos
by Steve Stephens firstname.lastname@example.org
Hilliard resident Jon Holstein has walked a line that will lead him to the VIP-only grand opening of the Johnny Cash Museum this week in downtown Nashville, Tenn.
Holstein is a longtime fan of country legend Cash, who died in 2003. Cash has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. And now he is the subject of a new museum with 18,000 square feet of memorabilia, exhibits and a 250-seat auditorium that opened last month.
The museum is prominently featuring a creation by Holstein: a Cash-themed motorcycle he calls Cash Money that he built, well, One Piece at a Time.
Holstein, 52, said he never dreamed the vehicle would eventually be displayed at a museum dedicated to his favorite musician. He didn’t even decide that the bike would be a tribute to Cash until after the project began. “I build a motorcycle every year,” Holstein said, “but I never know what they’re going to turn out to be until they get farther along.”
Holstein, owner of All-Knight Heating & Cooling, said he has built about 10 custom motorcycles as a hobby and for relaxation. “I put my heart and soul into these things,” he said.
Inspiration for his latest creation came from some unusual objects he found to integrate into the bike’s design. “I ended up using microphones from the 1940s and ’50s for headlights and taillights and as a horn cover,” he said.
“That finally made me decide to do a Johnny Cash theme.” In addition to the mics, the bike sports an airbrushed photo of Cash and airbrushed reproductions of the sheet music from some of his hit songs. Holstein said it took about nine months of work and about $12,000 in parts to assemble Cash Money.
As Holstein does with all of his creations, he showed his latest bike at the annual Easyriders custom motorcycle show in February in Columbus. Cash Money won best of show and was featured in V-Twin Motorcycles magazine. “One thing led to another, and somehow the museum ended up hearing about it,” Holstein said.
“My wife is my biggest fan, and I think she might have had something to do with it.” Holstein and his wife, Leslie Holstein, were invited to take the bike to Nashville, where they met museum officials — including owner Bill Miller, a longtime friend of Cash’s — as well as Cash family members. “They treated me like a king,” Holstein said. “You’d think I was the guy from American Chopper,” a TV show about custom-motorcycle builders.
When Miller asked whether the museum could display the bike, Holstein didn’t hesitate. “I’m honored that they chose this bike to go in there. I told them, “It’s found its home.” Of course, I did get to ride it a couple of times before I took it down” to Nashville, Holstein said.
The museum has been open since April, although the official opening ceremonies will take place this week. Cash Money is on indefinite loan. “The bike is sitting in their front window, and they say it’s already been bringing people in,” he said. “Several people even made offers to buy it, but it’s not for sale.”