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April 10, 2012  | by: Emily Simpson

The man, the myth, the legend - and his product.

A lot of the time we take our music for granted. We turn on the radio, it’s there; our iPods, there. We go to a concert and sound happens. It’s like magic – except, well, it isn’t. As someone who has worked in live music venues for coming up on two years now, I have come to realize the importance of amplifiers and microphones, the intricacies of horns and wires and frequency graphs. Jim Marshall realized the importance of amps in particular back in 1960 – as well as the gap in the British market for affordable guitar amps that weren’t imported from the United States – and thus one of the biggest industry visual and audio icons was invented: the Marshall amp, and later, the Marshall stack.

Musicians who swear by Marshall amps include Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton. It’s easy to see why their preference would fall to a particular piece of equipment designed to help produce a sound of “raw, fuzzy power.” At the time of the Marshall amp’s creation, its leading competition was the Fender amp, which produced a much cleaner sound. While that sound worked well for many singer-songwriter types and jazz musicians, the loud and dirty rock and roll that would come out of the UK and elsewhere in the 1960s and 1970s required something different. It can be speculated that if Jim Marshall didn’t come up with the idea, someone else would have, but because it was Jim, that amp fell into the hands of musicians who would skyrocket to fame on a new sound – a sound that shaped the course of music for decades to follow.

So this is just to say, “Rest in peace, Jim,” because he made the kind of impact on the world music scene that’s hard to describe and nearly impossible to imitate. We lost a good one on April 5th.

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