The passing of Jim Marshall last week must have had Radio 4 listeners wondering… why on earth should a man who made amplifiers be getting coverage on the Today programme? Yet even for us non-musicians there was something about just the look of the Marshall gear which grabbed your attention. And Deep Purple were wrapped up in the firm’s amplification from the very off when, pockets stuffed full of used fivers from the manager’s start-up fund, they kitted themselves out in style at Deeves Hall. The group continued to patronise his shop and Marshall would tweak Blackmore’s amp to order; his twin Marshall stack look as a much a part of the band as the musician himself for me. Deep Purple also did some promoting of Marshall gear in the early 70s and even made a special appearance at the factory on one occasion I seem to recall. Here’s a nice vintage press advert promoting the band and the gear.

deep purple and marshall amplification 1970 press advert

Even after Deep Purple split, the musicians retained ties with the firm – the group Gillan featuring on the front page of one of their late 70s in-house newsletters. Even in his final interview, which appeared after his death in one of the national papers (done by email as he was too poorly to do it in person), Jim was still talking of Ritchie Blackmore, Page and Clapton, British guitarists who helped establish his brand in the late 60s. In return many musicians talk reverently of the amazing service they got from the firm in days when the corporate mentality would have taken over from many a lesser personality. Forget Marshall branded radios and fridges, we’re going to put one of those cute one watt desk amps on our Christmas list this year.

deep purple and marshall amplification 1970 de lane lea

All Marshall'd up in De Lane Lea, 1970




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7 Responses to “Marshall”

  1. Tony B Says:

    I believe that Randy Rhoads ordered a modified Marshall and asked for it in white? There is now a special edition RR Marshall that you can get:

  2. Tony B Says:

    I do remember Ritchie’s special edition white Marshalls perhaps at late Rainbow gigs (looked real good) and being blasted by his Marshall at Manchester Apollo in 1990 as I was at the very front. RB’s amp sounded similar but better than my different model Marshall JCM800 I bought the year before (not forgetting who’s playing of course!). It demonstrated to me how different a true valve amp sounds in comparison with transistor/solid state etc. ones. Sorry if you not a guitarist reading this!

    Below is a bit of trivia about a guy who bought Jimi H’s old Marshall Plexi amp no 7026 in 1971 for £65. If you click on the repro of the Carlsbro Sound Centre advert and magnify to top middle you will see it advertised. Just above is a purple (!) Marshall stack for £340 – a colossal sum I would have thought then? I am going on the average wage being around £25-30 a week in 1971. It makes the prices seem less of a bargain through 2012 eyes.

    • simon robinson Says:

      Yes those Marshalls painted up white were a shock to the system when we first saw them. Do we know if anyone else ever did this? They did look very very cool. We had a Carlsboro Sound Centre in Sheffield, my brother practically lived there.

  3. Tony B Says:

    I bought 2 Marshall amps because I wanted to sound like my guitar heroes like Ritchie Blackmore, Hendrix etc. Unfortunately I never got to sound like my heroes primarily because I’m not them!

    I may also have bought the wrong model as mine was not the classic JTM 45, Plexi but…. Since then I have never liked playing through valve amps until recent experiences which have helped my understanding on why they are the pro guitar player’s choice. I also believe I understand how my heroes achieved their almighty sound with Marshall’s – I guess deafening themselves in the process.

    I still have my signed letter from Jim Marshall when I bought the amps (his real signature and not a photocopy) and I can even remember the smell and quality feel of the amps – not sure they are still made in the UK now.

    It helps that I eventually found out how Blackmore’s Marshall amp was modified (JHS treble boost and power amp gain?) as I think I would have done something like this. Just thinking of those creamy lead guitar tones on Made In Japan (Guitar nerd point – solos utilising neck pickup especially) and those Blackmore Blues in SKOW. Truly legendary amps overall.

  4. timinox Says:

    I missed this sad bit of rock news – although VOX were a very popular choice for a lot of guitarists in the early 60’s (as were Fender of course) it was Marshall who was able to deliver gear that was capable of actually being heard by the audience once concerts got bigger than small club size (it all needed to be piped into a decent PA as well!).
    I once read an interview with a photographer regarding a shoot he did with Jimi Hendrix during a sound check – on hearing the photographer’s name Hendrix said to him ‘that means there’s two Jim Marshalls on stage’, to which the photographer said – ‘actually there’s three – me (Jim Marshall), you (James Marshall Hendrix) and him – pointing to the amplifier and cab”!!
    Maybe Simon can confirm whether THAT Jim marshall ever shot Purple?

    • simon robinson Says:

      I did go to an exhibition of the photographer Jim Marshall’s work many years ago in Manchester in a dingy gallery somewhere down by Canal Street (before the area was all yuppified). From what I could see he didn’t cover Deep Purple ever, which is a shame as his work was superb. You can tell how long ago it was because they weren’t selling framed signed prints for three figure sums! I do recall fleetingly looking at a particularly ace shot of Hendrix, the open window next to it, and the canal tow path just below and wondering… but behaved myself.

  5. Bruce Metcalfe Says:

    One of the biggest disappointments for me seeing the reunion show in 1985 was not seeing a double or triple stack of Marshalls behind Blackmore! Were they behind the green cityscape backdrop!?

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