Farewell to the 'Father of Loud' – it's been a blast


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The Independent Culture

The rock world has promised to "crank it up to 11" to mark the death of Jim Marshall, the "Father of Loud", whose groundbreaking amplifiers gave the gift of extreme volume to generations of guitar heroes.

Marshall, a former music shop owner from West London, who died aged 88, devised the stage equipment which first allowed Pete Townshend and Jimi Hendrix to pummel audiences into submission. The Marshall, arrayed in huge cabinet stacks of loudspeakers, formed the floor-to-ceiling stage backdrop to almost every headbanging, heavy metal act.

Launched in 1965 as a cheap British alternative to American amplifiers, Marshall's breakthrough amp offered guitarists depth and a thunderous, raw power without diluting the sound. Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page seized upon the simple black box, housing a speaker and volume knob, which Marshall, a drummer with an electrical engineering background, approved for sale after rejecting six prototypes.

Hendrix bought his first British amp after visiting Marshall's Hanwell instrument shop. When Pete Townshend and John Entwistle required sufficient volume to overpower the sound of the audience – and drummer Keith Moon – at The Who's incendiary live shows, Marshall presented them with a huge, and ultimately untransportable rig, which filled eight speaker cabinets.

Although most closely associated with metal fret-wranglers like Slash from Guns 'N' Roses and Eddie Van Halen, Kurt Cobain, Noel Gallagher and U2's The Edge have all plugged into a Marshall amp, which are now produced from the company's base in Milton Keynes.

The Marshall legend was sealed in the parody film This Is Spinal Tap when guitarist Nigel Tufnel boasted that his volume control extended to 11, or "one louder". Marshall responded by producing amps which could be turned up to 20.

Slash led the tributes, tweeting: "The news of Jim Marshall passing is deeply saddening. R & R will never be the same w/out him. But, his amps will live on FOREVER!"

Tim Burgess, singer with The Charlatans, urged fans "whatever you're listening to, just turn it up to 11. Make it one louder for Jim."

Motley Crue bass player Nikki Sixx wrote on Twitter: "RIP Jim, you were responsible for some of the greatest audio moments in music's history – and 50% responsible of all our hearing loss."

Dave Mustaine of thrash-metal veterans Megadeath, said: "I have never been sadder than today. My dear friend and father figure Dr. Jim Marshall OBE has passed away. I am at a loss for words."

A Wembley Arena concert to be held in September, marking the company's 50th anniversary and featuring members of Iron Maiden and Whitesnake, will now be a tribute to Marshall. Fans hope that a minute's feedback will be held in his honour.