R.I.P. Marshall Grant, Johnny Cash's Tennessee Two Bassist
Marshall Grant, the Memphis bassist who along with guitarist Luther Perkins, were the members of Johnny Cash's seminal band the Tennessee Two, died early Sunday in Jonesboro, Ark.
Cash's daughter Roseanne reported via her Twitter account Sunday that Grant had died of aneurysm, and that she had visited him the hospital during his final days. He was 83.
Grant, who was played by actor Larry Bagby in the Cash biopic Walk the Line, was actually friends with Cash's brother Roy in Memphis, and met Johnny when the future Man In Black returned to Memphis after his stint in the Air Force.
And, as portrayed in the movie, Grant was part of an informal group composed of Cash and Perkins who began jamming for fun but eventually gelled into a sound that separated them from other Sun Records acts like Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins. They would go on to become one of the most important forces in modern country music.
Grant not only played with Cash but also managed his tours and recorded with him until 1980, when the two fell out over accusations that Cash had embezzled the retirement accounts of Perkins and Grant. These claims were settled out of court and the two men eventually reconciled. Ms. Cash has often described Grant as her father's best friend.
Grant and Perkins, who later became the Tennessee Three when Cash added drummer Fluke Holland, pioneered the distinctive rockabilly twang beat often described as the "boom chicka boom" sound for the way Grant slapped his bass strings. It was a Cash trademark throughout his career.
Luther and Carl Perkins were unrelated, but the latter was part of Cash's band for many years after charting on his own with hits like "Matchbox" and "Blue Suede Shoes."
Along with Luther Perkins, Grant was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame as the Tennessee Two. After his tenure with Cash, Grant went on to be the longtime manager of the wildly successful Statler Brothers.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.