May 5, 1928|
near Bryson City, North Carolina
|Died||August 7, 2011
|Instruments||Upright bass, Bass Guitar|
|Associated acts||Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two|
|Website||at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame|
Marshall Garnett Grant (May 5, 1928 – August 7, 2011) was the upright bassist and electric bassist of singer Johnny Cash's original backing duo, the Tennessee Two, in which Grant and electric guitarist Luther Perkins played. The group became known as The Tennessee Three in 1960, with the addition of drummer W. S. Holland. Grant also served as road manager for Cash and his touring show company.
Grant was raised in Bessemer City, North Carolina. He was one of twelve children born of Willie Leander (1888–1968) and Mary Elizabeth (Simmonds) Grant. His siblings are Wade (1910–1985), Olson (1912–1993), Burlas (1914–1915), Vernal (1916–1971), Eulean (b:1918), Hershall (b:1921), Doris (1923–2006), Odell (b:1925), Ed (b:1931), Norma Jean (b:1935) and Aubrey Grant (b:1937).
Grant married Etta May Dickerson on November 9, 1946. They had one son, Randall.
Grant and his wife settled in Memphis, Tennessee in 1947. Grant worked as an mechanic; first for Wagner Brake Service, then C.M. Booth Motor Company, and later, Automobile Sales Company in Memphis. It was during this time that he met fellow Automobile Sales employees Luther Perkins and Roy Cash, Sr., older brother of Johnny Cash. When the younger Cash returned to Memphis after serving in the U.S. Air Force, Grant, Perkins and Cash began playing together as three rhythm guitarists, along with another Automobile Sales co-worker and steel guitar player, A.W. "Red" Kernodle. Grant was a self-taught musician, and learned to play the bass after the group collectively decided that Grant should switch to playing bass, and that Perkins would play lead guitar.
Grant was an important part of the trademark 'boom-chicka-boom' sound of Johnny Cash that would change the sound of country music. He recorded with Cash from 1954 until 1980. Grant also voluntarily took on the responsibilities of road manager for Cash's touring show. During his career with Cash, Grant played Epiphone upright basses and electric basses by Fender, Epiphone and Micro-Frets. On the album cover for Johnny Cash At San Quentin, Grant's Epiphone Newport bass is famously featured in the foreground. In the early 1970s, he endorsed Micro-Frets instruments and Sunn amplifiers.
Legal troubles with Cash
Cash's recurring drug problems eventually led to issues that resulted in Grant being fired by Cash. It was at this time that Grant discovered that Cash had embezzled retirement funds set aside for Grant and the late Luther Perkins.
In 1980, Grant filed suit against Cash for wrongful dismissal and for embezzlement of retirement funds. A lawsuit against Cash for slander was also considered. In coincidental action, Luther Perkins' daughters from his first marriage filed suit against Cash for embezzlement of retirement funds. Both lawsuits were eventually settled out-of-court.
Despite the bitter legal battles, the two men later reconciled. Grant contends that he was probably Cash's closest and most trusted friend; indeed, he played a critical role in helping Cash along when Cash's drug problems threatened his career and his life. Grant made a final appearance onstage with Cash in 1999 as an original member of The Tennessee Two.
Grant's autobiograpical book I Was There When It Happened: My Life With Johnny Cash was published in October, 2006. It is a behind-the-scenes story of their beginnings and rise to fame.
He "laid down [his] bass for the last time" at the Brooks Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, in August, 2010.
For many years, Grant owned and raced outboard powerboats. His teams included notable drivers such as Dick Pond, Charlie Bailey and Billy Seebold. Often, members of the Johnny Cash band would work in Grant's pit crews.
Walk The Line
- Top 40 Johnny Cash Moments, About.com, retrieved 2011-02-05
- Gilmore, Mikal (2008), Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and its Discontents, Free Press, p. 187, ISBN 978-0-7432-8745-6
- Grant, Marshall and Zar, Chris (2006), I Was There When It Happened - My Life With Johnny Cash, Cumberland House, ISBN 978-1-58182-510-7
- Micro -Frets, retrieved 2011-06-05
- Folsom Prison Blues, YouTube, retrieved 2011-06-01
- Quincy Loop Racing - Marshall Grant, retrieved 2011-06-01
- Boat Racing Facts, retrieved 2011-06-01
- Walk The Line, Internet Movie Database, retrieved 2011-02-06