Marshall - the sound of rock´n´roll!
"The Father of Loud" is the nickname that the world gave to Jim Marshall, and he earned it with his amplifiers with which we identify the sound of rock'n'roll for the last 6 decades...from Hendrix and Jimmy Page to Slash and Satriani. From the MG series of digital amplifiers, all the way to british tube legends such as the JCM800, JTM45, etc..., all of this is in the well-known arsenal of Marshall amplifiers.
Jim was born in London on 29 July 1923 and as a child he suffered with tubercular bones which meant that he spent much of his early years hospitalised to the age of 13. At his father’s suggestion he took up tap dancing to strengthen the bones in his legs and he soon discovered that he had a flair for music. Subsequently Jim took up the drums and by the late 1930’s he was playing semi-professionally, before going onto to teach.
After over 20 years gigging on the road on 7 July 1960, Jim opened a family run music store with his wife Violet and son Terry called ‘Jim Marshall and Son’. The store quickly got a reputation as the place to be for young rock musicians. More established music stores at the time were concerned with providing Jazz instruments which was the prominent style, but Jim saw an opportunity to supply the alternative crowd. He soon became one of the leading amplifier stores in the region.
However, these young guitarists, were complaining of not getting the tone they wanted from the amplifiers available. So, Jim and Terry decided to build their own. Jim focused mainly on the cabinets of the product, while Terry and Ken Bran, then Service Engineer, looked at an RCA circuit and started experimenting with different components, and it was these different ears that enabled the Marshall sound to be born.
The first amplifier now known as ‘Number One’ was born and due to great interest went into production under the aptly named JTM45, standing for Jim & Terry Marshall. It attracted 23 orders on its first day in store in September 1962 and would become the first of many JTM45 amps. The '45' stands for the RMS (root mean square) value, which differed from the other manufacturers who rated their amps at peak power.
Marshall went to another level in 1965 when Pete Townshend demanded the sound to be louder with a bigger stage presence. The solution was, to the horror of roadies everywhere, the Marshall 8x12” speaker cabinet. But Jim quickly replaced these with two stacked 4x12” cabs giving rise to our iconic Marshall Stack. The rest, as they say, is history. In 1966, a well-known local drummer and former student of Jim, Mitch Mitchell, started playing with a then relatively unknown American guitarist called Jimi. During a gig, a venue refused to remove the Marshall stacks off the stage to make space for the bands amp, so after playing through the stack, Jimi Marshall Hendrix asked Mitch for an introduction to the ‘person who shared his name’. From then on, Marshall was international.
The development of the company as well as Marshall products continued in the following decades. Thus, the JCM800 amplifier marked the rock sound of the 80s, as well as the JVM series, the rock sound of this century. Only a small fraction of famous guitarists who played Marshall amplifiers on stage or in the studio are mentioned at the beginning of the text, and in reality there are many more. The significance of the name and sound of Marshall amplifiers in the world of rock music is immeasurable, so once again, it is no surprise that Jim Marshall was given the nickname "The Father of Loud".