The sixties superstars' ear-shattering sounds, blasting first in small clubs and music halls and later in stadiums and arenas, relied on the basic Marshall amp for their frenzied, thunderous roar.
That was no accident. Marshall, who died on Thursday at the age of 88, was not looking for precision when he and his sound engineers came up with the early Marshall amps in 1960. He said in a 2000 interview that what he wanted was raw, fuzzy power.
He said the rival Fender amp, tremendously popular at the time, produced an extremely clean sound that worked well with jazz and country and western but did not satisfy younger players searching for something different. He was looking for a rougher sound. Marshall was a larger than life figure with a taste for single malt Scotch whiskey and Cuban Montecristo cigars. Even in his 70s, when he was already suffering from some serious health problems, he thought nothing of hopping a plane to catch an Iron Maiden concert.
He had suffered several strokes in recent years, and developed cancer at the end of 2011, his son Terry Marshall said Friday hours after his father's death.
He said the cancer led to an extended hospitalization followed by a brief hospice stay. “My wife and I were with him when he passed away at about 8:15,” Terry Marshall said. “He got cancer toward the end of last year, and had surgery for that, and it came back. He was in a terrible state the last five or six weeks. He's in a much better place now.”
He said his dad had liked being known as “the father of loud.” Marshall's death was announced on the company website with a statement honoring “the joy” his amplifiers brought to millions of music fans and vowed that the “world-famous, omnipresent script logo that proudly bears your name will always live on.”