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Huge collection of Johnny Cash artifacts acquired by UVic

Thousands of gold records, photos and scrapbooks belonging to the late Saul Holliff — Cash’s manager in the 1960s and ‘70s — are now in the special collection of the university’s library.

New exhibit of mementos belonging to Cash's Canadian former manager available for viewing online

Johnny Cash backstage in 1958 at a show at the London Arena in London, Ont. A huge collection of Johnny Cash photos, posters, letters, recordings and more are now in the hands of the University of Victoria. (Marilynne Caswell; submitted by Jonathan Holiff)

The University of Victoria has become the new home for some very significant artifacts connected to legendary musician Johnny Cash.

Thousands of gold records, photos and scrapbooks belonging to the late Saul Holliff — Cash's manager in the 1960s and '70s — are now in the special collection of the university's library.

Clockwise from top: Saul Holiff, promoter Phil Simon, June Carter and Johnny Cash sit backstage before a performance at the London Gardens in London, On., in this 1965 photo. This photo is one of the many in Saul Holiff's collection, discovered by his son in a storage locker on Vancouver Island. (Jonathon Holiff)

Holiff, a Canadian, retired to Vancouver Island after leaving the music business in the '80s. He died by suicide in 2005.

His son, Jonathan Holliff, found his father's collection of over 5,000 artifacts in a storage locker after his death. He sorted through it and made a documentary about his father's life and relationship with Cash, My Father and the Man in Black.

Over 5,000 items collected during music manager Saul Holiff's lifetime were discovered by his son in a storage locker. (Jonathan Holiff)

"He was every bit as important to Cash's career as Col. Tom Parker was to Elvis or Brian Epstein was to The Beatles," Holliff told On The Island guest host Khalil Akhtar.

The collection Holliff sorted through included over 600 letters, 1,000 photos and about 60 hours of audio.

Gold records from the career of Johnny Cash are part of the Saul Holiff collection. (Jonathan Holiff)

Perhaps most notable are the gold records from Saul Holliff's career, including A Boy Named Sue, one of Cash's most famous songs.

"I was a kid at the time and didn't know whether to believe him, but he said it was gold and that you'd need a diamond needle at the time to play it," Holliff recalled.

The collection is available for viewing online and select items — including the gold records — are available for public viewing at the UVic Library.

Listen to the full story:

Thousands of gold records, photos and scrapbooks belonging to the late Saul Holliff - Cash's manager in the 1960s and '70s - are now in the special collection of the university's library. 6:29

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Island

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