tagged w/ Marshall Stacks
The New York Times...
Jim Marshall, Maker of Famed Fuzzy Amplifiers, Dies at 88
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Jim Marshall, who made rock ’n’ roll rawer and noisier by inventing the amplifier that helped define guitarists from Jimi Hendrix to members of countless garage bands, died on Thursday at a hospice in London. He was 88.
His death was announced by the company he founded, Marshall Amplification. The Associated Press said the cause was cancer.
Mr. Marshall was part of the English music scene as a drummer, drumming teacher and owner of a store in London that sold drums as the new rock music was gathering momentum in the early 1960s. Musicians urged him to add guitars and amplifiers to his wares. One of them, Pete Townshend of the Who, said he told Mr. Marshall that he wanted something “bigger and louder.”
“I was demanding a more powerful machine gun” to “blow people away all around the world,” Mr. Townshend told NPR in 2002. “I wanted it to be as big as the atomic bomb had been.”
With his sixth prototype, Mr. Marshall and his helpers came up with a harmless-looking black box with a speaker inside and controls on top. It would become the basis for the formidable wall of amplifiers used by Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and almost every other major rock guitarist in the ’60s and ’70s and by the next generation of guitarists as well, including Kurt Cobain, Eddie Van Halen and Slash.
This acoustic artillery came to be called the “wall of Marshalls” or “Marshall stacks.” Mr. Marshall became known as “the father of loud.”
The Marshall amps were cheaper than the ones made by Fender, which produced a more precise sound. But the emerging rockers wanted something rougher and rowdier. In a tribute on Twitter, Mötley Crüe’s bassist, Nikki Sixx, said Mr. Marshall had been “responsible for some of the greatest audio moments in music’s history — and 50 percent responsible for all our hearing loss.”
James Charles Marshall was born in London on July 29, 1923, to parents who owned a fish-and-chips shop. He was stricken with tuberculosis of the bones and spent much of his early youth in a plaster cast from his knees to his armpits. When he was 13, sinking family fortunes forced him to take jobs in a scrap-metal yard, a jam factory and a shoe shop. Having learned to tap dance at 14, he was hired as a dancer and singer with a 16-piece orchestra. He took up drumming and rode his bicycle to performances, pulling his drum kit in a trailer.
During World War II he worked at an engineering firm after failing his draft physical and read engineering books on his own. After the war he taught drumming and eventually had 65 students.
He used his teaching profits to buy his music store. One of the musicians who came into the store regularly was Ken Bran, who visited with his band, Peppy and the New York Twisters. Mr. Marshall hired him as a service engineer.
Mr. Bran suggested that they build their own amplifiers, and brought in a young engineer, Dudley Craven, to help them. They collected ideas from musicians about creating a fuzzier, more rambunctious sound then in demand. The sound became known as “the Marshall crunch.”
The first model, made in 1962, attracted 23 orders the first day. Two years later Mr. Marshall had 16 people in a factory making 20 amplifiers a week. Exports began in 1964 with an order from Roy Orbison. More growth followed as the company supplied mammoth sound systems to acts like Deep Purple and Elton John.
One of Mr. Marshall’s biggest breaks came in 1967 when Hendrix visited his showroom. In just months Hendrix would have a huge hit with his album “Are You Experienced,” but at the time, Mr. Marshall recalled, he thought the guitarist was “just another American chap wanting things for free.” Hendrix assured him that he intended to pay, and ultimately bought four complete stage setups.
“He was our greatest ambassador, without a doubt,” said Mr. Marshall, who considered Hendrix the best guitarist ever.
Mr. Marshall is survived by two children, two stepchildren, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, The A.P. reported.
A connoisseur of Cuban cigars and a single-malt Scotch bottled for him, Mr. Marshall many times refused to sell Marshall Amplification. “You can’t take it with you, you can only live in one house and drive one car at a time,” he said. “It’s the name that means something to me — because it is my name.”
.The New York Times...
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