The Tennessee Three was the backing band for legendary country music and rockabilly singer Johnny Cash, for over 40 years until Cash's semi-retirement in 1996.
From his early stardom with Sun Records until his last years as a performer, Johnny Cash chose only to work with one band and depended upon them to provide him with the unique sound that would come to be recognized by millions of fans the world over as "The Johnny Cash sound."
The band began in the mid-1950s as The Tennessee Two, consisting of Cash's friends and collaborators Luther Perkins on electric guitar and Marshall Grant on bass guitar. Perkins was the author of the band's famous steady, simple "boom-chicka-boom" or "freight train" rhythm.
In 1960, drummer W.S. Holland joined the group, which was then renamed The Tennessee Three. Holland is credited as the first Rock & Roll drummer, in the early 1950s, and had collaborated with Cash on some previous recordings.
Luther Perkins died in a house fire in 1968. Authorities were uncertain whether it was suicide or foul play. Cash believed Perkins fell asleep with a lit cigarette.
Bob Wootton then joined as the group's guitarist, and continued Perkins' unique sound that had defined so many of Cash's records. Wootton had been a Cash fan for many years and was familiar with the technicalities of how to produce the proper Cash sound.
In 1971, the group recorded an instrumental album dedicated to Perkins: The Tennessee Three: The Sound Behind Johnny Cash.
Marshall Grant left the group in 1980, and since then others have joined the group, so it now contains more than three members, with Wooton and Holland remaining as the group's anchors.
Added by billholdens on December 3, 2006