Johnny Cash’s sideman Marshall Grant dies in Ark.

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Rosanne Cash said Grant, who lived in Hernando, Miss., fell ill while in Jonesboro and the Johnny Cash Festival was held Thursday night without him. It attracted country music stars George Jones and Kris Kristofferson.

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.

Not only did the trio almost singlehandedly spawn rockabilly, a rich vein of rock `n’ roll that’s mined today by stars such as Jack White and Brian Setzer, it helped popularize rock and modernize country music.

That sparse sound was perfect for rock `n’ roll, Rumble said, and eventually became part of the DNA of country music, a genre Cash would revolutionize, then symbolize for 40 years.

“It was a highly influential sound,” Rumble said. “You had the standard 2/4 beat, the Ray Price shuffle and the Johnny Cash beat, and between those three that covers a whole lot of ground in country music.”

Through much of that time, Grant was by Cash’s side. Rosanne Cash argues that without Grant, you could forget about most of it _ no rockabilly, no “Man in Black,” no legend.

“He wouldn’t have gone where he did without Marshall, and therefore this lineage not only of me but of the next generations of roots and rockabilly and country musicians would’ve disappeared,” she said. “An entire generation of those musicians owe something to Marshall.”

Arkansas State recently acquired Cash’s boyhood home and sponsored last Thursday’s concert to benefit its restoration and the establishment of a museum in the Dyess Colony.

Johnny Cash was born at Kingsland in southern Arkansas and grew up at the Dyess Colony, where during the Depression the government offered to support Delta farmers by funding homes and hospitals in return for their working the surrounding cotton fields. The experiment faded by the 1950s as the post-war boom attracted farmers to the cities.

Part of the 2003 movie “Walk the Line” about Johnny Cash was filmed in Dyess.

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