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metal talk
5th April 2012

jim marshall

Jim Marshall, the legendary founder of Marshall Amps has passed away aged 88.

The man who Bruce Dickinson once described as the "person who invented Heavy Metal" was an innovator and a pioneer and a massive influence on Metal and rock over the past fifty years.

A statement on the Marshall Amps website reads as follows:

"It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved founder and leader for the past 50 years, Jim Marshall. While mourning the Guv'nor though, we also salute a legendary man who led a full and truly remarkable life.

"Jim's ascent into the history books as 'the Father of Loud' and the man responsible for 'the Sound of Rock' is a true rags-to-riches tale. Cruelly robbed of his youth by tubercular bones, Jim rose to become one of the four forefathers responsible for creating the tools that allowed rock guitar as we know and love it today to be born. The ground breaking quartet also includes the late, great trio of Leo Fender, Les Paul and Seth Lover – together with Jim, they truly are the cornerstones of all things rock.

"In addition to the creation of the amps chosen by countless guitar heroes and game changing bands, Jim was also an incredibly humble and generous man who, over the past several decades, has quietly donated many millions of pounds to worthy causes.

"While the entire Marshall Amplification family mourns Jim's passing and will miss him tremendously, we all feel richer for having known him and are happy in the knowledge that he is now in a much better place which has just got a whole lot louder!

"Rest in Peace & thank you Jim.

"Your memory; the music and joy your amps have brought to countless millions for the past five decades; and that world-famous, omnipresent script logo that proudly bears your name will always live on.

"An online condolences site will be available shortly which we welcome you to leave your messages on. An announcement will be made when this will be accessible."

Jim Marshall was born in Acton, West London, in 1923, into a family which included boxers and music hall artists. He started out as a drum kit retailer but began building amplifiers in the early 1960s. During World War II he was exempt from military service due to his poor health.

He became a singer, and then, due to the shortage of available civilian musicians, doubled as a drummer. In his day job as electrical engineer he built a portable amplification system so his light, crooning vocals could be heard over his drums.

"I was making 10 shillings (£0.50) a night and because it was wartime, we didn't have any petrol for cars, so I would ride my bicycle with a trailer behind it to carry my drum kit and the PA cabinets which I had made! I then left the orchestra to be with a seven piece band and in 1942 the drummer leader was called into the forces and I took over on drums."

In order to become more proficient on the drums and to better emulate his idol, Gene Krupa, from 1946-48 Marshall took weekly lessons from Max Abrams. In 1949 Jim started teaching other drummers, including Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), Micky Burt (Chas and Dave), Mickey Waller (Little Richard) and Micky Underwood (Ritchie Blackmore).

"I used to teach about 65 pupils a week and what with playing as well, I was earning in the early 1950s somewhere in the region of £5,000 a year (eqv. 2012 to £108,000), which was how I first saved money to go into business."

From 1960, Marshall owned a moderately successful music store in Hanwell selling drums and then branching out into guitars. His many guitar playing customers (including Ritchie Blackmore, Jim Sullivan and Pete Townshend) spoke of the need for a particular kind of amplifier and Marshall saw the opportunity.

He set out to create a new valve guitar amplifier and used the Fender Bassman amp as a model. He hit upon 'the Marshall sound' with the sixth prototype. In 1965, the first combos and 100-watt models were created.

By the late 60s, rock artists such as Jimi Hendrix could be seen playing against a backdrop of Marshall 'stacks'. The mid-'70s saw the launch of the Master Volume Marshall amps and in 1982, the company introduced its now-classic JCM800 split channel amps.

Jim was honoured with The Queen's Award For Export in 1984.

An official Jim Marshall Memorial Facebook page has been set up and you can visit it by clicking here.


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