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.
In 1966, a well-known local drummer and former student of Jim, Mitch Mitchell, started playing with a then relatively unknown American guitarist called Jimi. During a gig, a venue refused to remove the Marshall stacks off the stage to make space for the bands amp, so after playing through the stack, Jimi Marshall Hendrix asked Mitch for an introduction to the ‘person who shared his name’. From then on, Marshall was international.
We quickly outgrew the Hanwell shops and Hayes factory and moved to Bletchley in 1967 continuing to be pioneers through the remainder of the decade. Initially, Jim was asked to move to a factory site in Rugby but felt this was too far from his roots. Bletchley offered the right combination of skilled workers, reasonable rent, central distribution and closeness to London, and has remained the home of Marshall to this day.
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.
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 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 with ANC and voice technology.
We welcomed Natal to our family the same year. Although the company was officially founded in 1965, British percussionist Alan Sharp had 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), Jordan Pugh (Boston Manor) and Oli Wiseman (Anne Marie).
2012 marked an incredible 50 years 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 who sadly passed away in April that year.
We also diversified again, this time offering a range of music speakers for home or leisure 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.
To furtherour support of young musicians, we launched Marshall Records in July 2016. Signing talented bands such as Nova Twins, Therapy? 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. Today, they fly the flag alongside Bottom Line, Gallus, Thousand Thoughts, Grand Slam, Bad Touch, Inklings, Gen and the Degenerates and D_Drive.
We took the next step in 2021 when we introduced Marshall Live Agency to provide a new means of support for artists, crew and promoters in the everchanging live music industry. Couple this with our very own state-of-the-art recording studio which launched later that same year, and we are able to provide musicians with everything they need to make incredible music and leave their mark on the industry.
Here at Marshall we’re proud of our history but we’re only just getting started. You may have noticed that we’ve released new products, refreshed our look, added new features to our website, all to realise our vision to support the next generation of musicians and music lovers.
Marshall are defined as innovators and we will continue to push the boundaries of possibility to help inspire you to find your sound.