Jim Marshall, who pioneered guitar amplifiers used by some of the greatest names in rock and roll, died today. He was 88.
Born in London in 1923, Marshall was a drummer, drum teacher, and owner of a musical-instrument retail store specializing in drums. He also carried guitars and amps, including the Fender line. Most players, however, found them to be prohibitively expensive and not quite what they needed.
“Players like Pete Townshend, Ritchie Blackmore and ‘Big’ Jim Sullivan pointed out to me, that although they used a Fender, it didn’t produce the sound they wanted,” Marshall told VG in a 2003 interview. “So they described the sound they were looking for to me. And that’s how the JTM 45 came to be.”
Also in 2003, Marshall product manager Nick Bowcott described the “sound” of Marshall amps as highly subjective.
“What the typical Marshall sound is really does depend on the listener,” he said. “A fan of ’70s British blues rock might cite Paul Kossoff’s edgy, organic sound as typical Marshall or Clapton’s quintessential ‘woman tone.’ Others might hear it as AC/DC’s cleaner-than-you-think rhythm and bruise, Edward Van Halen’s jaw-dropping classic ‘brown sound,’ the raw, brutal roar of the rhythm work of Kerry King of Slayer, Zakk Wylde’s fat, woody overdrive, the singing sustain of a Joe Satriani or Slash, or the crushing crunch of modern players like Wayne Static (Static-X), Stef Carpenter (Deftones), Daron Malakian (System Of A Down), or Mike Mushok (Staind).”
Friends and music-industry acquaintances cite Marshall as a humble and generous man who, over several decades, quietly donated many millions of pounds to worthy causes.