RIP Punk Rock Johnny Cash

Sad news — Muni Diaries reports that beloved BART busker Jesse Morris, aka “Punk Rock Johnny Cash,” passed away on Sunday. According to a commenter and alleged close friend, Jesse took his own life.

Jesse was known for his uncanny covers of Johnny Cash songs, which one could catch on lucky mornings at the 24th St. Mission BART station.

Rest in Peace, Jesse. Your voice and smile brightened many a morning commute for me.

[Photo via Troy Holden]

49 Responses to “RIP Punk Rock Johnny Cash”

  1. timbo says:

    I heard about this yesterday, and it really made me sad. I hadn’t seen him around for a bit but saw him last week and told him how I had missed him…R.I.P.

  2. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

    Oh man, that is a bummer. That guy did the most AMAZING early-Johnny Cash vocal impression. He was really good, and I would give him a couple of bucks every time I saw him busking.

  3. Jen says:

    This really, really upsets me. I haven’t seen him as much lately since I don’t BART to work anymore, but his voice used to warm my heart as I ran down the steps in the morning on my way to work. RIP, dude, I’ll really miss your music.

  4. dave says:

    Sad news.

    This guy was good, and really gave memorable performances. Better than what passes for live music in most legitimate SF venues these days.

    Thanks for reporting it.

  5. Jesse Gillingham says:

    I did not know the dude, but I would see him all the time at 24th BART. Great voice, seemed like a cool guy. RIP Jesse

  6. Emily says:

    I really looked forward to my morning commute knowing Jesse might be at 24th street. Such sad news. He will be missed.

  7. Steve says:

    He was awesome, this is very sad news.

  8. hello says:

    terribly sad. truly talented.

  9. Rajeev Dhar says:

    This dude was a good performer. His Cash imitation was spot on. Sorry to hear this.

  10. scum says:

    I would say voice of an angel, but Johnny Cash was no angel. Thanks Jessie for having many chances to hear you.

  11. MrEricSir says:

    Easily the best street musician in the city. And he was always out there — I’ve heard his version of Ring of Fire more times than the original recording!


    Rest in Power, Jessie! *** TEARS

  13. Garcia says:

    This guy brightened many a shitty morning for me. RIP, Jesse.

  14. Jessie, didn’t know you but you cheered up the morning commute on the regular! Our community will miss you greatly.

  15. Madalynn says:

    This is just awful. Jesse was extremely talented and always brightened my commute. I always tried to give him a thumbs up and a couple bucks.

  16. Fiid says:

    I’m not a regular at 24th St (Hipster South), but I’d seen Jesse a few times, and he was very talented. Rest in peace. Very sad.

  17. Katy says:

    Fucking NO! No. Fuck you. No.

    He was really cool, and really good, and I am really fucking sorry to know this sad news.

  18. Anon says:

    One time I bumped into him when we were hot tub squatting at some fancy building near AT&T Park. This was like 8 years ago. I just remember how friendly and energetic he was.

  19. Stu says:

    Fucking bummer. He could do a spot on Merle Haggard too if you caught him between songs and asked. He will be missed.

  20. unholyguy says:

    man that sucks i loved that guy

  21. Mental illness sure is strange — if people poured-out their love for me, while I was alive, the way everybody seems to have done for Jesse, I’d have a hard time climbing down from the heights of ecstasy.

    • Katy says:

      Speaking from experience with depression, when the chemicals are out of balance, all the positive input in the world does no good. Once it gets inside your head, your brain fucks it all up. FWIW.

      • Which makes me wonder — is the kind of talent that makes people love you uncritically somehow tied to an inborn inability to make use of love? Sort of a “Kurt Cobain effect”?

        • Lil Danzig says:

          I think it has a lot more to do with a ‘nothing to lose’ feeling — most people who are happy with themselves and their position in life don’t have many reasons to bare their souls to strangers but when you’re at rock bottom you don’t really have any reason NOT to.

          i know that most of my ‘artistic motivation’ comes from struggling to make a connection with people, and that’s something people with more ‘normal’ brains can do in their day-to-day lives, without putting themselves through the rigors of ‘creation’ etc etc

          • OK.

            I’m in sort of a middle position — severely damaged, but almost happy with myself now. In therapy. Getting better. And yet, I still have to ‘struggle to make a connection with people.’ Want to — try to — but “need to” is still lacking.

  22. Eek says:

    Oh no! He was so dope! I shoulda bought a CD…will there be a memorial or something?

  23. EverythingSucks says:


    Far and away the best BART performer. I would always try and throw him a buck a two when I had the chance.

  24. DomPara says:

    I wish I had a chance to see this Bartist.

  25. DocPop says:

    I was bummed to hear about Jesse. I saw a photo of him just last week and it instantly made me feel like I was listening to him sing right before my daily ride.

    Speaking of photos, I noticed you used Troy’s photo without attribution (or even a link to the original). Here’s one link you could use

  26. Jack Walker says:

    He had a great voice and he was also decent towards me. Once I was limping down the stairs at BART, going pretty slow. He stopped to ask if I was OK. I don’t know — it made me feel human to have a stranger concerned about me. Wish you were.

  27. Juanpablo says:

    That really, really hurts. He formed the barrier between life and work in the most wonderful way.

  28. Western Addition Lurker says:

    Is he also the bouncer at MiniBar on Divis? Looks a lot like the bouncer there. Same face, same nose ring, full of tats, punk rock gear.

    Never heard the bouncer sing, but I’d be super bummed if it was the same guy. He’s, without a doubt, the nicest bouncer on the block. Always with a smile on his face and quick quip to get the evening started right.

  29. Jamie Guzzi says:

    Nooooooo. Super bummer. I hope his family knows how much his work touched a lot of people. I gave him HELLA dollar bills on the regular. Always made my day. God Bless, Jesse. God Bless, Punk Rock Johnny Cash.

  30. collin says:

    I miss you…… You have a hard look but a teddybear heart. I have the pictures of us 6 years ago and am staring at them in tears. You have touched so many with your tough exterior but beautiful heart. I hope to see you in another life..

  31. trixie says:

    i always wanted to put on a gingham dress (of which i have many) and jump in and do a duet of “jackson” with him. i never did because i don’t do those types of things and also i do not have the equivalent june carter voice to go with his johnny cash.

    i’m regretting i never bought his cd, always trying to catch the damn train. i will so miss hearing him and like many others who posted here, when i would hear him in the bart station, no matter what kind of icky day i might be thinking i’d have, it always improved my mood significantly.

    really sad.

  32. Bucky Sinister says:

    Thanks for the writeup. Jesse was a pal of mine. We did two shows together, one at the Edinburgh Castle and another at 12 Galaxies. He had a big heart. Probably could’ve been a pro standup comic had his life path been different…absolutely hilarious. Miss ya buddy.

  33. Andy says:

    NO!!! sad, sad news. I really appreciated his music on my morning commute.

  34. Olu says:

    He was great. I asked him to do some Waylon and he did. Such a nice guy. Sucks he took his own life.

  35. dembele says:

    If you’d like to contribute a little something for his memorial service and get 7 unreleased songs in return, go here and kick in a whopping $5:

  36. TC says:

    I only got to hear him once but I was blown away by how much he sounded like Johnny Cash.

    Total shame, total waste, total bummer.

  37. james geppert says:

    so sad about this. like many i always enjoyed seeing him in whatever station i saw him in; 24th, powell, montgomery. i didn’t see him for ages & then about a month ago i saw him at the montgomery street bart & i too wish i’d bought his cd or at least told him how many happy moments he gave me. r.i.p. sweetie.

  38. LateNightTransfer says:

    Jessie caught the Westbound.


  39. Ronald says:

    Sad ending of a great performer.
    A lot of skills down the drain..
    He’s drinkin’coffe with JC now I guess.
    (and that JC is not jezus christ ;-)

  40. Jae says: