Johnny Cash sideman Marshall Grant dies at 82
Bass player helped redefine American music with Cash
Man in Black Johnny Cash, along with guitar player Luther Perkins and bassist Marshall Grant came along to redefine American music. Grant, the last surviving member of that group has passed away following a stroke at the age of 82. At the time of his death, Grant was rehearsing for a concert to raise funds for the restoration of Cash's boyhood home, said Cash's daughter, Rosanne Cash.
Marshall Grant had always admitted that the trio had no special insight as they shaped that universal beat, a sound that launched a million imitators with songs such as 'I Walk the Line.'
"Our inability had more to do with our success than our ability did, and I'm not ashamed of it," Grant once said.
Grant and Perkins were originally auto mechanics in Memphis who practiced together at the shop when their co-worker Roy Cash introduced them to his brother, John, in 1954.
When it became evident that the three would never master the acoustic guitar, Perkins, who died in 1968 from injuries suffered in a house fire, borrowed a Fender Telecaster with volume controls stuck at wide open, Rumble said, and Grant bought a Kay bass. The resulting sound - The Johnny Cash beat - was both simple and driving.
"Luther played the way he did because he couldn't really play any way else," Rumble said. "That very sparse, plowing rhythmic sound was something they just fell into. They didn't just sit there and work on it for weeks. That's pretty much the way they started out."
The three-man band began recording in 1955 on a roster that included Elvis Presley and other proto-rockers such as Carl Perkins. They earned modest success quickly and built on it with TV appearances on "Louisiana Hayride" and "The Grand Ole Opry."
Although Cash's name was out front, there was never any doubt where that simple rhythmic pattern helped launch rock `n' roll and modernize country music came from.
"The Johnny Cash sound was created by the three of them equally, you know what I mean?" Rosanne Cash, Johnny Cash's daughter says. "There was none of that `boom chicka boom' without Marshall. You can't separate the three of them at that point when it all started. It was one thing. You know, they're united again, the three of them."
Grant played bass with Cash until 1980 when he began a career in management, handling The Statler Brothers until they retired in 2002 and later writing the autobiography "I Was There When It Happened." Grant and Perkins were among the first inductees into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville in 2007.
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Keywords: Marshall Grant, Johnny Cash, rockabilly, country music
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