Joe Carter

MACES SPRINGS, Va. (AP) _ Joe Carter, a member of the famous Carter Family of country music, died Wednesday of cancer, his niece said. He was 78.

Carter was a cornerstone of the preservation of old-time mountain music and helped build the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Va., which presented shows of country and bluegrass music every weekend. The niece who announced Carter's death, Rita Forrester, is a Fold executive.

Carter was 5 months old when he traveled with his parents, A.P. and Sara Carter, from Maces Springs to Bristol in 1927 for a recording session that has been called ``the big bang of country music.'' It launched the careers of A.P., Sara and her cousin, Maybelle Carter, as the Carter Family trio. Maybelle Carter's daughter was June Carter Cash, the wife of Johnny Cash.

Joe Carter, who performed at the Carter Family Fold, was the last direct connection to anyone who was at that original session, his friend Tim White said Thursday.