Jim Marshall Dies Aged 88

The founder of Marshall Amplifiers has died. Pay tribute to the great man here, and learn why he is better known as 'the Father of Loud'.

Ultimate Guitar

With great sadness, we regret to inform you that Jim Marshall has died aged 88.

Jim founded Marshall Amplification after going into business 50 years ago in 1962. Since then, his cutting-edge amplifier designs have defined the sound of rock music and helped kickstart the 20th century cultural revolution. We all have a lot to thank him for.

He was born in London in 1923. As a child, he was diagnosed with tubercular bones, resulting in years of hospital treatment which affected his education and capacity for military service.

His legacy is with guitars, but Jim's early years were centered around a love for drums, thanks to his hero, Gene Krupa. He was soon teaching drum lessons, and by 1949 his students included several musicians who would become legends in their own right, including Mitch Mitchell who later joined the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

With 65 students per week, Jim was earning 5000 per year, equal to 108,000 ($170,000) in today's money. Jim was rich, and decided to invest it in a new business. He opened a music shop to sell drums, but soon expanded into guitars.

Some of his clients included Pete Townshend (The Who), Jim Sullivan (Tom Jones) and Richie Blackmore (Deep Purple). They kept talking about wanting a better type of amplifier, and Jim saw an opportunity. He recruited a smart young electronics apprentice, Dudley Craven, and Marshall Amplifiers was born in 1962.

Using the Fender Bassman amplifier as a template, they worked on improving the valve guitar amp design. They nailed it on the sixth prototype, where Jim decided to separate the amplifier from the speakers, use higher-gain valves, and include a special filter after the volume control. The result was an amp that was louder, broke into overdrive sooner, and boosted the treble frequencies. The 'Marshall sound' was finally born, and music would never be the same again.

By the late 1960s, Marshall amps became the backdrop to a rock revolution. Artists including Jimi Hendrix and The Who rocked in front of Marshall stacks while Jim continued to develop the technology behind his amps. He introduced the first master volume Marshalls in the mid-1970s, allowing for more distortion at lower volumes, and in 1982 the company released the classic JCM800 amp. It was hugely popular, and by 1984 he was honoured with The Queen's Award For Export in recognition of his outstanding export achievements over the previous three years.

In an obituary posted on the Marshall website, the company revealed more about his personal side:

"In addition to the creation of the amps chosen by countless guitar heroes and game changing bands, Jim was also an incredibly humble and generous man who, over the past several decades, has quietly donated many millions of pounds to worthy causes.

"While the entire Marshall Amplification family mourns Jim's passing and will miss him tremendously the music and joy your amps have brought to countless millions for the past five decades; and that world-famous, omnipresent script logo that proudly bears your name will always live on."

Jim will be remembered with the same reverence as the likes of Leo Fender and Les Paul. Each of these men helped define the sound of electronic guitars, and in turn, rock music.

With a heavy heart, Ultimate Guitar would like to pay its respects to Jim Marshall, his family and his company. We have a lot to thank you for, both personally and professionally, and we are sure our readership will agree.

Here is a selection of online tributes to the great man since the news this morning:

RIP Jim Marshall, The Father Of Loud. Without his contribution to music, god knows what we'd all be listening to.

Mikeydemus (@mikeydemus) April 5, 2012

RIP Jim Marshall. I met Jim once, really nice man. I've used Marshall since I was 9yrs old and will continue to do so. Music thanks you.

Mathew Gooding (@mgoodingartist) April 5, 2012

RIP Jim Marshall, a genuine legend and a revolutionary innovator, I'm honored to have met him.

Jack T. Hill (@JackTHill) April 5, 2012

RIP Jim Marshall. I remember when he took me for dinner,made me drink Whisky&told me the most amazing stories of Hendrix et al. Legend.

Alex Joakley (@alexjoakley) April 5, 2012

RIP Jim Marshall, without you we'd never be able to make so much noise

The Retrospective (@TheRetrospectiv) April 5, 2012

RIP, Jim Marshall. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and the tips of my fingers! The world would sound way different without you. \m/\m/

Jimi Hazel (@JHazel247) April 5, 2012

RIP Jim Marshall. You will be missed dearly. Thanks for your contribution to the industry that helped shape it into what it is today.

Taylor Bailey (@taytater) April 5, 2012

Remember to turn your amps to 11 tonight in honor of Jim Marshall, otherwise known as "the Father of Loud". Consider this page our memorial to this great man, and may his legacy rock on.

170 comments sorted by best / new / date

    RIP Jim, the world of the dead now has the best musicians and tech guys imaginable.
    Black Hazard wrote: Peavey > Marshall
    Seriously? You're bringing a ****ing fight over which is better to an obituary? What the hell is wrong with you?! Even if you don't like Marshall's, their impact on music is undeniable.
    It's sad news, but at the same time it's decent to not read of someone dying way before their time. He sure lived a long and fulfilled life and contributed to the full. The world will miss him, inspirational! RIP Jim Marshall!
    GrungeHippie26 wrote: RIP Jim Marshall and also RIP Kurt Cobain...
    Lol, seriously? Jim Marshall > Kurt Cobain
    Jugulator_cro wrote: Why can't the headline be a bit nicer? Like, Jim Marshall passed away aged 88.
    dude, with this being UG, I'm just grateful it doesn't say, 'Reaper Slams Jim Marshall over longevity'
    Black Hazard wrote: Peavey > Marshall
    That's not necessarily worth noting right now... RIP
    Jim Marshall I thank you for all you did, it's a tragedy. R.I.P. and say hi to Dio, Cliff & Randy for me ;(
    Jim made the guitar sound as it should, he defined the standard for the entire community. A true legend and giant of the music world. Such a sad loss, rest in peace Jim you will be missed by us all.
    Man this happened as I was modifying my Marshall last night, VERY VERY freaky. Worst news of the day to, and to the Kurt Cobain thing, apparently he committed suicide so nobody should really be greiving
    Although I wrote the article, I wanted to weigh in and personally pay my respects to Jim Marshall. He influenced so much more than the guitar world, and many of us might never have been born if he didn't nudge reality into this direction. Incredible.
    Jugulator_cro wrote: Why can't the headline be a bit nicer? Like, Jim Marshall passed away aged 88.
    Although it often seems like UG's headline department is made up primarily of some exceptionally twisted bastids, I really don't see a problem with this one In fact I thought it was a rather nice piece -> the fact that it's not a clich-laden stub seems worth mentioning to me. A lot of websites and news sources are so keen on being topical that they release badly formulated and poorly researched bits, just because they wanted to state something as quickly as possible (making it painfully obvious that the source had no affinity with the subject whatsoever) Jim Marshall deserves better. Thank you UG
    R.I.P Jim. And to anyone on here who isn't simply saying the same, have a little respect. Kurt Cobain and Peavey amps aren't relevant on a page where people have come to say goodbye to Jim.
    RIP, you really had a huge impact on the rock sound. For those about to rock because of your amps, we salute you
    yohank97 wrote: Who is jim marshall?? is he the one who invented marshall amps??
    Why the hell would you post before reading the second sentence in the article? Checked
    yohank97 wrote: Who is jim marshall?? is he the one who invented marshall amps??
    Dude....read the article first before asking completely obvious questions. RIP Jim you will be sorely missed!
    Not a major Marshall fan, but gotta appreciate what he did at a time when amps were a lot more basic and a lot lower quality (apart from the few models that have become classics). I have to ask though... the tweets at the end - are any of them supposed to be famous peers of his, or just random people the author follows on Twitter?
    RIP Jim Marshall and also RIP Kurt Cobain...
    Why the hell does this have dislikes? He's only showing some respect. People these days, jesus.
    Why can't the headline be a bit nicer? Like, Jim Marshall passed away aged 88.
    Reality isn't nice. RIP.
    Born with 'Tube'rcular bones. It's like creating Marshall was his destiny. RIP Jim Marshall, I can't wait to pay off a full-stack crafted from you..
    RIP Jim Marshall. I'd like to let you know I've still got my eye on the Marshall limited edition Randy Rhoads Head and cabinet. No other company could replicate such an awesome amp like your company did. Thanks for the sound and music you let everyone make from Jimi Hendrix to Slayer. THANK YOU. \m/
    Wow so sad to hear this. Currently I don't own a Marshall amp but I plan on buying one in the future because Marshall amps have such great tone. May you rest in piece sir Marshall!
    Running_It_Back wrote: GrungeHippie26 wrote: RIP Jim Marshall and also RIP Kurt Cobain... Lol, seriously? Jim Marshall > Kurt Cobain
    I think the poster is just recognizing the fact that the Nirvana frontman died on April 5th, as did Layne Staley. This isn't a friggin' contest as to who was better... its paying respect. Sheesh.
    GrungeHippie26 wrote: RIP Jim Marshall and also RIP Kurt Cobain...
    Yeah dude, why. RIP Jim. But while we are on the subject of death. I would like to let a few other people rest in piece.....