Threesome

Blackmore three Marshall stacks 1970

UPDATE – Thanks to all who commented. To sum up, the badge on the cabinet reads 100, and was applied to cabs designed to work with four 25 watt Celestion speakers inside. The unit on the right is a Marshall reverb, and he can be seen kicking it on film shot at the Royal festival Hall in 1970. The reverb inside was made by Hammond. The slightly larger speaker is just an older model. Ritchie himself claims he did use all three stacks  ‘during extra loud passages’, but normally just used two. If so they must have been set to a low level. The AC30 can be seen on stage in front of the Marshalls in some Mk 2 photos. Jim Marshall suggested he was asked to put the Vox inside one of their similar Marshall Combo amps, which makes more sense. Thanks to: Brent Dehn, Konrad Stief, JP, Matt Love, Tim Campbell, Chris Parsons, Madrakeroot and MIJFenders.

Thought we might throw this out for comment. Blackmore took three Marshall stacks on the road with him for a short period in 1970.  Finding a clear shot of this isn’t easy but this one gives you the idea. What our techie consultants are pondering is how the stacks differ. The right hand one clearly has a taller bottom speaker. The left hand pair have badges of some sort top left, not there on the middle pair. And lastly what is the fourth amp doing propped up on the chair?  There has been talk of him ramming the guts of an old AC30 into a Marshall to use during Child In Time – but (if it’s even possible) would this explain it? Jon Kirkman wonders if it’s some sort of slave amp to provide distortion, and points out that Paul Kossoff was using a triple stack at the time (as indeed did Hendrix). One of the reasons was that PAs were a lot less powerful, so this gave the volume.

And lastly how flipping loud would this lot have been?!  If anyone can shed light on all this do let me know.  Love the bemused look on the gent on the right, seemingly one of the hall staff waiting for it all to end…

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19 Responses to “Threesome”

  1. r3c0rdc0113ct0r Says:

    Hi Simon…as a former Ritchie Blackmore(!) I actually ran 3 stacks together when playing the Isle Of Man TT for two nights at The Venue in Douglas. This was the only time. I always ran two stacks when playing all over the UK in Deepest Purple. So when I took my stacks over to the Isle of Man and found another one waiting on the stage, it had to be done! It’s correct that only one cab would be miked up as the sound engineer only needs one feed for the PA. The stacks are used to get the on-stage sound and volume right. Drumkits are very loud on stage! And when you’ve got bass, Hammond organ and vocal monitors on too, you need a fair bit of volume. Running 2 or even 3 stacks simultaneously means you can drive one amp quite hard and ‘spread the sound’ through the other amps and cabs. You’d be surprised how directional the cabs are. Stand right in line and you get a good level of sound, move to the side and the sound can easily get lost on stage. So running a wider ‘wall’ of cabs gives you a bigger on stage area where you can hear what you’re playing. So, the comments stating that only one were used and the others were spares is nonsense I’m afraid. With regards to how loud..? All depends on the other noisy bastards on stage! Doesn’t have to be overly loud but it’s all personal preference.
    cheers, Neil Priddey. (ex Ritchie, Deepest Purple)

    • simon robinson Says:

      Big thanks for this Neil, helps explain. We’re still waiting for your ‘recollections of a tribute band’ feature don’t forget!

      • r3c0rdc0113ct0r Says:

        ‘recollections of a tribute band…’ how many tens of thousands of words do you want (!)…and do you want the video of the pole dancers on stage during ‘Woman From Tokyo’ too…?!
        cheers Neil

      • simon robinson Says:

        Just a feature with some of the best (and worst?), I’m sure DTB readers would enjoy. I’ll pass on that video, but maybe give you Gillan’s email address – he’s into that sort of thing (though it might give them ideas for the new tour!). Still, Mk 3 certainly played with a stripper on stage at least once in 1974, so perhaps you were just being extra authentic?

  2. Mark B Says:

    Never took you for hard of hearing, Mr. Robinson! Three stacks, side-by-side, looks very cool. Only one is ever running, the other two are for…..looking cool and to come into use should the one he is using at the time fail. Simples.

    • simon robinson Says:

      For my age (!) apparently my hearing is quite good, but I do try and restrict playing tracks properly loud to just a few at a time as otherwise it does begin to ache a bit. And yes, the stacks do look cool, but even cooler when they all match!

  3. Pete Sklaroff Says:

    I don’t know details about the various Marshall heads he used at this time, but the reel to reel you can see him using at the California Jam and later with Rainbow was I believe doubling as a kind of pre-amp and delay unit. You can hear it on live versions of ‘MIstreated’ especially, where there is a clearly detectable echo on the guitar signal. I also think that he used the reel to reel to compress and distort the guitar sound a bit more to provide added sustain etc. I know some folk at the time thought that he had pre-recorded his live solos and put them into the reel to reel..which was of course completely untrue.

    • simon robinson Says:

      He certainly used this for echo on the 1974 UK tour as we puzzled over it at the time (sneaking over to have a look as we’d got a spot on the stage to watch the show!). My brother immediately started trying to replicate this using his old second hand Aiwa reel to reel. I remember a few people complaining about him having solos on it, though quite why you should want to do that I never understood.

  4. Ian Says:

    The Marshall head on the side is possibly an old reverb tank. It’s not a disembodied head being used for overdrive because unless it was attached to a speaker the output transformer wouldn’t last five minutes and you wouldn’t overdrive an amp feeding it an output signal, you’d destroy it.

    The speakers could be anything. Marshall did a range called Park so some of it might be from that range. From what I’ve read about Marshall and Fender, you have various bits in the factory which you stick together to meet a particular customer need, sell it and then call them something after the event. I would guess he’s buying straight from Marshall and not from a shop so it wouldn’t be ‘packaged’.

    • simon robinson Says:

      The Marshall on the chair has been confirmed as a reverb unit. I don’t watch much rock video, but had to be reminded that you can see him clobbering it at the end of the band’s slot on the 1970 Festival Hall performance (especially to cheese off John Peel no doubt!). And yes he did go direct to first the shop (apparently Ritchie was one of the first dozen or so people to order a Marshall amp, after Jim put an unboxed prototype out in his shop one Saturday morning), then to the factory.

      • Scott W. Says:

        “Seen clobbering it at the end of the Festival hall performance”…..? Are we talking about the Queen Elizabeth Hall Video from 1970?

      • simon robinson Says:

        Yep, always get the two muddled up as they’re bang next to each other, and DP played both venues within a few weeks of each other. While I have visited to admire the architecture I’ve still not been to a concert at either yet (it’s on my bucket list…)

  5. Dan Says:

    Kool.

  6. Heavy Metal Overload Says:

    I also seen footage of him (maybe thinking of the California Jam or the Copenhagen DVDs…) where he had some sort of reel to reel tape machine near his amps. Always wondered what that was…

    It seems strange that only one of them seems to be miked up, but I’m not a techie (as you can probably tell) so I look forward to seeing what people have to say about all this.

  7. Mark B Says:

    The larger cabinet is almost certainly one for a bass guitar. Perhaps he liked the tone more?

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