Marshall has been celebrated by some of the world’s greatest bands and musicians including: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Slash, Oasis, Muse, Gorillaz and Slaves. They can be seen on tour with artists like Justin Timberlake and Lana Del Rey. However, none of this would be possible without founder and revolutionary, Jim Marshall OBE.
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 teaching and playing professionally. After over 20 years gigging on the road on 7 July 1962, Jim opened a music store, Jim Marshall and Son, in Hanwell, London.
The store sold a variety of musical instruments and attracted many young emerging talents, such as Pete Townshend and Ritchie Blackmore, who were friends of Jim’s drum students. Responding to calls for a new breed of amplifier, Jim and his team worked to produce their own. The first amplifier now known as ‘Number One’ (which is on display at the Marshall factory in Bletchley), attracted 23 orders on its first day in store in September 1962 and would become the first of many JTM45 amps.
Marshall went to another level in 1965 when Pete Townshend demanded his sound to be louder. Jim’s solution was the 100 watt Marshall amplifier, the Super 100 head and, to the horror of roadies everywhere, the Marshall 8x12” speaker cabinet. This was too bulky to transport so was replaced by two stacked 4x12” cabs giving rise to our iconic Marshall Stack. The rest, as they say, is history.
“After all, I have been nicknamed The Father of Loud!” Jim Marshall
We quickly outgrew the Hanwell shop and moved to Bletchley in 1967 continuing to be pioneers through the remainder of the decade. In 1969 we introduced new PCB technology to maintain our classic tones whilst keeping up with thriving production demands. These demands increased as our name became synonymous with high quality amplifiers thanks to our popularity with The Who and Cream. At the same time Jimi Hendrix was influencing the industry, bringing guitarists to the front of the stage and showcasing the power of Marshall.
Our legendary JCM800 launched in 1981 found fame with its bold new look and aggressive modern sound. With lower production costs, this amp was affordable for young bands starting out in the punk or heavy metal genre. Today, our JCM800 re-issue is a favourite of Lzzy Hale, the frontwoman of hard rock band Halestorm.
“Every time I plug it in I get that same feeling, that same desire to just rock.” Lzzy Hale
In 1987, we celebrated 25 years in the amplifier business and, for Jim, this signified 50 years in the music business. In honour of these anniversaries, we released our stylish Silver Jubilee amplifiers. With their silver vinyl cladding and chrome-plated control panels these amps are still incredibly desirable today.
1997 marked 35 years of Marshall and to honour this we launched our renowned DSL range. You may also remember seeing our white vinyl amps that year, maybe you were even lucky enough to get one—there were only 250 manufactured. 10 years later, our flagship amps, the JVM series, were released, boasting multi-channel, tonal and functional versatility.
Change was in the air in 2010 as we branched into the headphones market. We wanted to bring Marshall brand quality to a wider audience and a new range of products. We launched the Major and Minor headphones featuring the white script logo, black vinyl covering and heavy duty hinges. These have been hugely successful and now in-ear, on-ear and over-ear options are available, some with Bluetooth and voice technology.
We welcomed Natal to our family the same year. Although the company was officially founded in 1965, British percussionist Alan Sharp has been assembling his own instruments since the late 50's. As orders for his revolutionary percussion came flooding in, Natal Percussion Company was formed, championed by the likes of Fleetwood Mac and The Rolling Stones.
The use of fibreglass for greater sound projection and rounded hoops that were easier on the hands made his instruments popular. Although these manufacturing methods would later be adopted by other drum companies, Natal were the pioneers and interest in the brand exploded as a consequence. Natal continued to flourish in the following decades, extending their product range to include the Fusion series in the early 90's as well as cowbells, cajons and small percussion in the following years. More recently, Natal has moved into drum kits, attracting young musicians like Jamie Morrison (Stereophonics), Dave Rawling (Mallory Knox) and Anthony Lewis (Jess Glynne).
We expanded again in 2011 when we acquired the American bass company Eden. Originally focusing on PA systems, Eden is now famed for its clean bass tones and is a first choice for any session musician. The Eden sound is also a hit with many recording artists including the Stereophonics. The illustrious D-Series cabinets are an industry standard, setting a high bar for bass cabinets.
“It was so clean and pure and it just added another level to everything.” Sam Douglas, Mallory Knox
2012 marked an incredible 50 years in the industry for Marshall. Our 1 watt heads and combos were released to commemorate this special occasion and pay homage to some of our greatest creations. In true Marshall fashion, we took over Wembley Arena for a star-studded rock concert featuring a host of legendary musicians who all paid tribute to Jim Marshall OBE who sadly passed away in April that year.
“I would have been delighted if we could have built and sold just 50 amps. I didn't dream that the endeavour would last 50 years." Jim Marshall
We diversified again, this time offering a range of music speakers for home or work use. Our first two speakers, Hanwell and Stanmore, were named after significant locations in the Marshall story. Our speakers are based on the iconic style of our vintage amps and include vinyl covering, gold metal finish, script logos and fret cloth.
In 2016 we launched the digital, fully programmable, Bluetooth connected CODE. This amp has a wide range of sound options with professional quality models and 24 digital FX. With these amps you have full creative control and can choose from a range of Marshall sounds.
“It’s pretty amazing to actually have everything you would want in an amp…in an amp!” Nita Strauss
To complete our support of young musicians, we launched Marshall Records in January 2017. Signing talented bands REWS, Reigning Days and Press to Meco. Our inspiration to form a record label was due to our relationship with David Evans from King Creature. After receiving his first amp from us, David’s mother kept us up to date with his progress and it turns out, he is epic. When King Creature was formed, we had to be involved and give them a platform to take their music forward. They, along with Reigning Days and REWS, rocked BBC Amplify in October 2017 – showcasing the talent Marshall has been able to support.
Here at Marshall we’re proud of our history but we’re only just getting started. You may have noticed that we’ve refreshed our look, with a new website to realise our vision to capture the next generation of musicians. Our latest release, Origin, is an all-valve amplifier, delivering an authentic Marshall sound while keeping up with the demands of contemporary players and eclectic tastes.
Marshall are defined as innovators and we will continue to push the boundaries of possibility to help inspire you to find your sound.
Music is at the heart of everything we do.