He invented the sound of rock for millions
Jim Marshall was born in Acton, West London, in 1923, into a family which included boxers and music hall artists. As child he was diagnosed with tubercular bones, and spent many years in the hospital. His formal education suffered as a consequence. During WWII 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.
"At the end of two years, I became quite efficient on drums", Jim once said. "I taught Mitch Mitchell who joined Jimi Hendrix, Micky Burt of Chas and Dave, Micky Waller with Little Richard and Micky Underwood who played with Ritchie Blackmore. I used to teach about 65 pupils a week and what with playing as well, I was earning in the early 1950's somewhere in the region of £5,000 a year, which was how I first saved money to go into business."
In his other job as an electrical engineer he built a portable amplification system so his light, crooning vocals could be heard over his drums and thus history was made. He started out by making PAs and bass amplifiers in his garage in 1960 before opening his first factory in 1964.
His amps have been used far and wide by anyone who is anyone in rock music. The Who, Hendrix, Cream & Zeppelin were amongst the pioneers who popularised the amps, while they have been consistently used by guitarists ever since.
A statement on the Marshall Amps website reads:
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 included 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.
Those amps are as synonymous with rock music - both in terms of sound and look - as the Fender Strat or the Gibson Les Paul and for that, Jim, we will be forever in your debt.
RIP Dr Jim Marshall OBE, 1923 - 2012