James Charles “Jim” Marshall, known as The Father of Loud or The Lord of Loud, was an English businessman and pioneer of guitar amplification. His company, Marshall Amplification, has created equipment that is used by some of the biggest names in rock music, producing amplifiers with an iconic status. In 2003 Marshall was awarded an OBE for “services to the music industry and to charity”. Marshall is considered to be one of the four fathers of rock music equipment along with Leo Fender, Les Paul and Seth Lover.
Marshall was born in Acton, West London, in 1923, into a family which included boxers and music hall artists. As a child he was diagnosed with tubercular bones, and spent many years in the hospital. His formal education suffered as a consequence. During WWII he was exempt from military service due to his poor health. He became a singer, and then, due to the shortage of available civilian musicians, doubled as a drummer. In his day job as electrical engineer he built a portable amplification system so his light, crooning vocals could be heard over his drums. “I was making 10 shillings (£0.50) a night and because it was wartime, we didn’t have any petrol for cars, so I would ride my bicycle with a trailer behind it to carry my drum kit and the PA cabinets which I had made! I then left the orchestra to be with a 7 piece band and in 1942 the drummer leader was called into the forces and I took over on drums.”
To become more proficient on the drums and to better emulate his idol, Gene Krupa, from 1946–48 Marshall took weekly lessons from Max Abrams. In the 1950s, Marshall became part of the English music scene and started teaching other drummers, including Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), Micky Waller (Little Richard) and Mick Underwood (Ritchie Blackmore). Marshall commented, “I used to teach about 65 pupils a week and what with playing as well, I was earning in the early 1950s somewhere in the region of £5,000 a year (eqv. 2012 to £108,000), which was how I first saved money to go into business.