Marshall has been celebrated by some of the world’s greatest bands and musicians including: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Slash, Oasis, Muse, Gorillaz and Bring Me The Horizon. We can be seen on tour with artists like Justin Timberlake, Kendrick Lamar and Lana Del Rey. However, none of this would be possible without founder and revolutionary, Jim Marshall OBE and his son Terry.
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’, at 76 Uxbridge Road, Hanwell, London. Today you will find a plaque on the pavement outside to celebrate our humble beginnings.
The store sold a variety of musical instruments and attracted many young emerging talents, such as Pete Townshend, Ritchie Blackmore, John Entwistle and Big Jim Sullivan, who were friends of Terry and knew the music store through Jim’s drum students, such as Keith Moon.
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 mechanics of the product, while Terry and Ken Bran, then Service Engineer, looked at an RCA circuit and started experimenting with different components. Like Jim, neither were guitarists, with Terry a prominent Saxophonist, and it was these different ears that enabled the Marshall Sound to be born.
The first amplifier now known as ‘Number One’ attracted 23 orders on its first day in store in September 1962 and would become the first of many JTM45 amps. Aptly named, it stands for Jim & Terry Marshall. The '45' stands for the RMS (root mean square) value, which differed from the other manufacturers who rated their amps at peak power.
In March 1963, such was the success of the amplifiers, that Jim opened a second shop over the road at 93 Uxbridge Road to accommodate more products and production. However, demand soon exceeded supply and in June 1964, Marshall opened their first dedicated factory on Silverdale Road in nearby Hayes.
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.