Johnny Cashbox & TheDragonflyRising

Who is Johnny Cashbox and exactly why is he a "universal superstar"   My name is Robert Williams, an investigative journalist, and I will tell you why!

Ralph Morse and Les Mason at the British Museum 

(Some would say the best place for them)


Ralph has performed music, in one form or another, for most of his life.    At around the age of twelve his voice started to "break" and by the age of thirteen he found he had a depth and resonance to his singing that most people twice his age did not have.   Once cast by Victor Moll, his drama teacher, as Captain Corcoran in Gilbert and Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore",  Ralph became greatly interested in the rest of the comic operas and was soon heard singing some well known bass and baritone arias whilst doing his paper round.   Not holding back, these were performed with aplomb and and at some volume.   Yet, considering the time of day, he only ever received one complaint, and even that was not of the type he might have expected. 


"My boss, got a call from a customer who complained that he had overslept because he hadn't heard my singing one morning.  He said I was generally more reliable than an alarm clock.  On this particular day I had been unwell and the customer was consequently late for work."


Ralph's individual approach to light opera earned him the title of "the singing paperboy" and he was subsequently the topic of a number of newspaper articles and received invitations to sing at functions and offers to join local operatic societies.   He even considered becoming an opera singer but decided against it. 


"I was advised that if I were to take up singing seriously the training would not only be rigorous but also restrictive.  I used to put on funny voices, do impressions and also sing rock and roll and was warned that to continue to do so could at worst seriously damage my voice or at the very least undermine my potential."


Attitudes have changed in the intervening years and there are now a number of highly successful "crossover" artists.   As it was Rose Bruford College developed Ralph's vocal talent to serve an area for which it is eminently suited; musical theatre.    Roles in the professional theatre as diverse as Caiaphas "Jesus Christ Superstar"  and the MC ("EmCee") in "Cabaret"  have allowed Ralph to maintain his musical roots throughout his acting career.   indeed it

is the the combination of acting and music that has informed some of his most endearing creations.   


A journey that has included a vast array of contrasting characters, but one thread has remained a central theme to much of his writing;  Outer Space !!!.   At the age of fourteen Ralph wrote his first song, "Space Baby".   It tells the story of a teenage boy's imaginery fantasy, a beautiful futuristic siren that only he can see, and Inspired, no doubt, by television series like Star Trek and Dr Who or the film Barbarella.   The space race of the 1960s, the Gerry Anderson themed sci-fi marionette and live-action series would all fuel that part of Ralph's imagination.  A quick look at his imdb entry clearly shows the number of sci-fi related movies and television series he was involved in during the late 70s and early 80s.  When "The Delegation"  formed during this period it was inevitable that he would write "Starfighters Hit Zero" and "The Journeyman".   

The Coven Club performing at the Conway Walls, London in 2000


Ralph and Les Mason, first met in 1987 at the "Hole in the Wall" pub at the top of the Balkerne Hill in Colchester.  Ralph was playing a short lunch-time set and Les was at the bar.  They became friends and have remained so over the intervening years.  In the late 1990s they formed "The Coven Club" and in 2010 "TheDragonflyRising."   By that time Ralph had already been performing as Johnny Cashbox for seven years.   


Johhny Cashbox began his own journey in 2003.   At that point Ralph was performing as "Outlaw" in clubs, residential homes and small theatres.   When Johnny Cash sadly died in September of that year,  Ralph started getting many requests to perform the great man's songs.   He initially considered becoming a tribute artist, but two factors would change his mind.   Firstly, Ralph realised that although he could cover Johnny Cash's songs effectively,  there were others who could do it far more accurately and secondly, he started receiving approaches from an entirely different quarter; the sci-fi community.       

Johnny Cashbox - Universal Superstar


The evolution of Johnny Cashbox into the guitar-slinging, time-travelling space cowboy we know today, once instigated was fairly rapid.  As much an acting role as a musical one,  he is a multi-layed character, that on the surface seems mildly comic,  but that would be an over-simplification.   In "Universal Superstar" he is both the narcissist of the title, but also the victim of the underlying satire, in lines such as, "Some doctor says I'm deluded, well he can go to hell, but if I were deluded, I'd be the best at that as well".

Many of the songs are tie-ins to conventions or festivals at which he appears, especially "Invasion Colchester"  where his humorous exchanges with cosplayers and members of the public dovetail into songs that either parody or compliment the genre.                         

 "Am I All That Is Left of An Empire?", appears to be about an imperial stormtrooper, but could apply to any military officer.   "I Shot A ... Jedi" on the other hand is Johnny's one joke signature song.  Elsewhere "Blue Angel" explores rascism through the landscape of outer space.   These songs and many others are available to view on the Youtube JohnnyCashbox channel.   In 2017 Johnny woud make another "giant leap" when he became part of "The Secret - A Star Wars Story", which kick started the Bicentennial Eagle element of his journey... one that continues .... 

Johnny Cashbox - Action Figure


Johnny has certainly created his own comic and musical niche in the Star Wars universe