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Marshall Grant will be missed

Jeffrey Remz  |  August 8, 2011

The sidemen don't often get much time in the spotlight because, after all, it's the star that the fans came to see for understandable reasons.

Nevertheless, it's with sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Marshall Grant, Johnny Cash's long-time bassist. Grant, who was with Cash from 1954-1980, died Sunday in Jonesboro, Ark. of an aneurysm. Interestingly, Grant, 83, was in Jonesboro as part of a festival at Arkansas State University honoring Cash and raising money to preserve his boyhood home in nearby Dyess, Ark.

Grant was a part of Cash's great songs - Ring of Fire, I Walk the Line and Sunday Morning Coming Down. The former mechanic, who met Cash in Memphis, also played with Cash at Folsom and San Quentin prisons from which live discs were released. He was part of The Tennessee Two with Luther Perkins. They were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2007.

Grant perhaps was most known for helping the famed chicka-boom sound of Cash develop. In another excellent piece of music journalism from Nashville Tennessean reporter Peter Cooper, he quoted Cash's daughter and singer Rosanne Cash, "I was thinking yesterday that there would be no me without Marshall. Had Dad not had Marshall, he wouldn't have had the 'Johnny Cash Sound,' and he wouldn't have become all that he was, in his fullness. And I wouldn't have become a songwriter or a musician. There's a whole lineage that wouldn't have happened."

Unfortunately, Grant took ill at the fundraiser. Cooper recounts that Grant was at rehearsals Wednesday afternoon. He was slated to speak at the show about Cash's early recordings.

"Grant grew weary at his hotel while spinning stories with Cash family members. He then collapsed and was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he had emergency surgery to remove a blood clot," the story said.

Fortunately, Grant's role in history is secure. He also helped Cash through the bad times and later sued Cash over financial issues. Despite that, the two maintained a relationship. "Marshall was a solid, solid rock," Rosanne Cash told Cooper. "I cannot imagine what would have happened on those tours without him. He understood how complicated my dad was, that he was a great artist who had real demons. And Marshall was so consistent.

Marshall Grant will be missed.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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