Guitar amplifier pioneer Jim Marshall dies aged 88

LONDON Thu Apr 5, 2012 11:25am EDT

Jim Marshall, builder of amplifiers poses with one of his products at the 'Musikmesse' in Frankfurt March 13, 2002. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Jim Marshall, builder of amplifiers poses with one of his products at the 'Musikmesse' in Frankfurt March 13, 2002.

Credit: Reuters/Ralph Orlowski

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LONDON (Reuters) - Jim Marshall, dubbed the "Lord of Loud" for his pioneering work on guitar amplifiers used by some of the greatest names in rock music, has died aged 88.

A spokeswoman for the company he founded said he passed away in Milton Keynes, southeast England, on Thursday morning. She could not confirm reports that he had been suffering from cancer and had a series of strokes.

"It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved founder and leader for the past 50 years, Jim Marshall," said a statement on his company's website.

"While mourning the Guv'nor though, we also salute a legendary man who led a full and truly remarkable life."

Tributes poured in for a man credited with helping to shape the sound of guitar rock.

"The news of Jim Marshall passing is deeply saddening," former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash said in a message on Twitter. "R & R will never be the same w/out him. But, his amps will live on FOREVER!"

His company said in a written tribute: "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."

TOWNSHEND, HENDRIX AMONG EARLY CLIENTS

Marshall is revered as one of the four forefathers of rock music equipment along with Leo Fender, Les Paul and Seth Lover.

Born in London in 1923, he started out as a drummer before going into business and founding Marshall Amplification in 1962.

In around 1960, a young Pete Townshend, later lead guitarist for The Who, first suggested to Marshall that he expand his music shop to sell guitars and amplifiers as well as drums.

According to an interview Marshall gave several years ago, the London store quickly turned into a "rock'n'roll labour exchange", and Marshall hired an engineer employed by a record label to help him build prototype amplifiers.

Marshall rejected the first five attempts but was happy with the sound of the 6th -- he received 23 orders for the new equipment on the first day alone.

Legendary musicians including Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton were among the early Marshall amp users.

When Hendrix walked into the store, Marshall recalled thinking to himself: "Bloody hell, here's another American guitarist wanting something for nothing."

But the guitarist paid the full price for everything he purchased without delay.

Marshall was awarded an OBE honor for services to the music industry and to charity, and he has donated millions of pounds to "worthy causes", according to his website.

They included the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore where he was reportedly treated for tuberculosis as a child.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, Editing by Christine Kearney)

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Comments (1)
Rambo66 wrote:
I was 15 years old and I was saving up all of my money for a Mesa Boogie guitar amplifier. Any guitar player from back in the day knows the Mesa Boogie catalogs were a work of art and the stuff dreams were made of. The beautiful full color pictures and descriptive copy made you salivate. I poured over those pages, dreaming of the day when one of those beauties would be mine, and I was almost there… I had $700 saved.

And then I walked into Wayne Music. There sitting along the hallway wall was a 100-watt JMP Marshall top and matching 4×12 cabinet with 25-watt black back Celestion speakers. I lost my mind. “MOM!! MOM!! This is what I want. This is it!!! I gotta have it!!.’ My Mom tried to talk me in from the ledge ‘But Den, you’ve been saving for the Mesa-Boogie amp, you almost have enough money.’ ‘Yeah, I know Mom but this is a Marshall!’. They wanted $750 so my Mom gave me the difference and we left the store with it, me wedging it into the back seat of my Mom’s maroon Ford Fairmount.

I remember the next day I had my friend over to show him the amp, my Mom and her friend Fran were in the kitchen, about 15 feet away from where this EL-34 powered behemoth sat in our TEENY TINY living room. I asked, “Hey Mom, I can I just show this to Anthony for a second? I promise I won’t play it long.”. She of course said it was fine. That’s the kind of Mom she was. So….. I grabbed my 1965 Gibson SG Jr and plugged in. Turning the amp on, even with the guitar volume down you could hear how incredibly loud it was just idling. I turned my guitar’s volume knob up and ELECTRICITY filled the shoebox sized room. I took my pick and with my left hand muting all of the strings I simply ‘chunked’ on the strings. It was like a freight train came barreling through. It seemed as if every one of the NUMEROUS knick knacks on the piano, television and shelves (my Mom had a thing for tchotchkes) bounced in the air. My Mom’s friend Fran who was an elderly woman (or just always seemed that way) looked as if she was ELECTROCUTED!! She was lifted out of her seat, twitching. I swear I saw her beauty shop coiffure have lift off.

Thus began my love affair with Marshall amps. Thanks Jim Marshall, you were a force to be reckoned with and made all of my childhood dreams come true.

R.I.P.

Apr 05, 2012 3:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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