For Johnny Cash’s birthday, Oklahoma version of ‘The Man in Black’ is throwing a party

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OKLAHOMA CITY - He really is just a guy off the street walking into the 822 Broadway Salon downtown, a former marketing director for a drug and alcohol center who found another, better gig.

"I'm in disguise as Philip Bauer," he said before starting the process that turns him into Johnny Cash.

To chronicle the 40 minutes it takes Bauer to transform himself into 'The Man in Black,' we put up a small, GoPro camera. We shoot a little and talk a little about his amateur performance in 2008 at the Rodeo Opry that uploaded to YouTube and went viral, at least among fans of Cash.

"Within three months, I quit my real job, and this is what I do for a living now," Bauer said.

To get into Cash's character, Bauer watched a lot of video with the sound turned down. The distinctive Cash voice, he figured out earlier.

"Take a little John Wayne," he said, "and Mr Ed. You put them together, and you got Johnny Cash."

It's the Cash who had a variety show on TV in the late 60s and early 70s.

Bauer disappears with the donning of a dark-haired wig and some well-placed stage makeup. Put him in a long, black suit, and you have the pre-eminent Cash tribute artist working all over the world today.

The process finished, Bauer spins around and says, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash." His schedule includes more than 100 shows a year and more booking all the time.

"I absolutely love it," he said. "On its worst day, it's better than anything I've ever done."

Cash would have been 87 years old on February 27, but it'll be Bauer in his place at the Tower Theater the very next night. He's an Oklahoma guy who figured out how to transform himself into someone else to give the audience what they really wanted.

The Johnny Cash Birthday Celebration is scheduled for Thursday at the Tower Theater in Oklahoma City.

Doors open at 7 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m.

For ticket information, click here.

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