Marshall Grant, Johnny Cash's original bassist, dies in Jonesbor - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Marshall Grant, Johnny Cash's original bassist, dies in Jonesboro

(WMC-TV) - The last surviving member of Johnny Cash's original band died Sunday in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Bassist Marshall Grant was originally from North Carolina.  Along with Cash and lead guitarist Luther Perkins, he helped create the sound of Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two.

"Everybody wanted that sound," said head tour guide at Sun Studios, El Dorado Rey.

Grant passed away Sunday morning at age 83 from an aneurysm and stroke after rehearsing for a concert.

Rey said Grant was part of a revolutionary sound in country music.

"Very minimal sound, but it was huge at the time," said Rey.  "A simple 'boom boom boom' kind of rhythm."

Rey said the group's distinctive beat earned the trio a place in music history.  At a Johnny Cash tribute on CMT in 2003, Grant recalled how he, Perkins and Cash came up with their style.

"This is the only way I knew to keep up with him," said Grant.  "I'd hit a string and slap it, hit a string and slap it.  And there's so many people that think that we spent ten years creating that style."

Grant moved to Memphis in 1947 to work as a mechanic.  

After initially being turned away from Sun Studios by Sam Phillips, Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two were signed in 1955 and quickly earned success.

"These guys were playing from the heart," said Rey.

In 1980, after a series of disputes, Cash fired Grant.  Grant later sued for wrongful termination and embezzlement of retirement money.  They settled out of court.

Grant went on to become a music manager and was inducted into the Musician's Hall of Fame in Nashville in 2007.

"Marshall Grant had a falling out with Johnny Cash and I'm not really sure they reconciled," said Rey.

Cash still held a place in Grant's heart.  His last rehearsal was for a benefit concert to raise funds for the restoration of Cash's boyhood home.

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