THE term legend is much over-used but in the world of country music, Marty Stuart is just that.

Aged just 13, he was invited by Lester Flatt become a full time member of his bluegrass band Nashville Grass; in his early 20s he then joined Johnny Cash’s band playing guitar and mandolin for five years. He also became a member of the Cash family, marrying Johnny Cash’s daughter Cindy - the couple divorced in 1988.

As a solo artist and songwriter Marty has won numerous awards and this year he released Way Out West, one of the most critically acclaimed albums of his career.

Marty will be heading to Manchester next week with his band, the wonderfully named Fabulous Superlatives, as part of a rare UK tour

Still only 58, Marty appreciates his links to the roots of country music.

“I do feel like a bridge sometimes and that’s wonderful,” he said. “To have that overview from the likes of Jimmy Rogers and the Carter Family right up to current artists like Chris Stapleton who we’re touring with this Fall - that’s pretty cool.”

Having spent 45 years in country music Marty believes he has a responsibility to keep the traditions of country music alive.

“I totally understand it and I embrace it to be honest,” he said. “My wife Connie (country star Connie Smith) and I really enjoy putting our arms around young artists - singers, musicians or producers - who really have it in their hearts and need a friend and some guidance on getting started.

“The only guidance I can really give is ‘follow your heart’. It is all about passing it on.

“I used to ask why did Lester Flatts hire me? He did not need a 13-year-old chimpanzee in his world but he saw something in me and passed it on and Johnny Cash was the same when I was in his band. Now I’m in their position, it’s something I take very seriously.

“I know I loved being under the guidance of some of the master architects of the craft.”

The landscape of country music has changed in recent years and in the UK it is one of the fastest growing areas of music with a new breed of young artists such as Thomas Rhett incorporating hip hop, soul and even rap into their songs.

“Country was designed as a broad church,” said Marty. “If you go back to the bedrock , all the trends just disappear and you are with the root system. The definition of whatever traditional country music is keeps getting moved around, but the basis of it remains the same.”

Marty and his band visited the UK earlier this year for the annual C2C Festival in London.

“We’ve not been to your part of the world in a long time.” he said. “We just thought C2C would be a good place to test the water. I had no idea what the reaction would be, but we were invited back rapidly so I’m delighted.”

The album Way Out West has won Marty a whole new legion of fans.

“I scored a film in about 2001 called All the Pretty Horses directed by Billy bob Thornton and the soundtrack never really left me,” he said. “I always thought there was more like that I could do.”

Marty describes the album as a “cinematic journey”.

“I was on the bus with the band and we just talked talked about how as southern boys how much we loved things that came from southern California when we were growing up; things like go go girls,, the Batmobile and the Byrds.

“That led to me heading off in my mind to the Mojave Desert and started a cinematic psychedelic trip through the spirit world that became Way Out West.

“I remember telling the band, ‘when we’re through listening to the album I want to feel as though I’ve been on Willie Nelson’s bus for 21 days’.”

Marty describes the Fabulous Superlatives as “the band of a lifetime” and is already working on a follow-up album with them.

“It’s a hillbilly surf band record and it’s going to be really good,” he said. “We’re hoping to have it out next year.

“It needs to be the kind of band the London Philharmonic can play with but also be the kind of record if you are 14 and have just got your first Fender guitar and have pictures of girls on your bedroom wall, you can play it too.”

Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, Tuesday, October 10. Details from 0161 907 5555 or