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If You Don't Know VOX, Then You Don't Know About Hank Marvin

Updated on May 24, 2017
kenneth avery profile image

Kenneth has been a member of HubPages for five years. He is retired from a 23-year career in the weekly newspaper business.

A Musical Introduction

This hub is NOT about promoting a certain (or any) musical amplifier (VOX) or how I feel that you should run right out and buy a VOX amp today. I am going middle-of-the-road. And I do not want the HubPages' editors to get "up in arms" with me saying that this piece is too commercial.

Original Beatles museum set-up  along with the VOX in the background.
Original Beatles museum set-up along with the VOX in the background. | Source

The Bottom Line Definition is

when you see, hear and feel the energy produced by those of the musical talents used then and now, your sensory channels will kick into auto-light speed awareness giving you the results of early 1960s rock music coronated as raunchy, nasty, loud, edgy and hard. But do not think that the music of (my era) was ever considered as nifty. Yeah, like right on, man

Hank Marvin had an expanding revelation, and I safely wager that Marvin wasn't not on some illegal, controlled substance causing this explosive revelation. In 1959 he gave rock bands the VOX AC30 (amp) which was the AC30 (amplifier), the "big brother" of the fifteen watt (15 W) AC15 model, which VOX's original blueprint of the AC15 was not loud enough with the screaming fans at Cliff Richard's concerts and many more who hung entranced on the axe. Question: Cliff Richards? In the "Turbulent Sixties?" Uhhh, yeah.

Be it known that "I" am not an electronics guru or the manager of rock bands, but the AC15 was powered by a pair of EL84 tubes, an EF86-driven "Normal" channel, an ECC83-driven "Vib-Trem" channel, and rectified by an EZ81. The original first-generation AC30 used a GZ34 tube rectifier, three ECC83s (12AX7) for the Normal channel and the tremolo/vibrato oscillator/modulator circuits, one ECC81 (12AT7) phase inverter, and EL34 tubes in the power amplifier circuit. This proves one thing: with enough diligence, a person equipped with a laptop and an internet connection can move mountains.

I dare wager that the only reason that I find you reading this hub is simply because you came and lived through the "Turbulent 60's" with its transit forms of swift-moving rock bands--forming, breaking up and eventually some making some lasting mark in Rock Music--come on, gang. You can name (from memory) your ten best-known 45s or LPs that you worn out from playing day and night eventually grinding down your turntable needle. And those noble, sensitive, and some raunchy rock bands that disintegrated found employment by washing dishes or cars who felt sympathetic for these poor guys.

Original VOX logo.
Original VOX logo. | Source
The VOX AC30 Twin--one of the most-popular VOX amps.
The VOX AC30 Twin--one of the most-popular VOX amps. | Source

If You Were to

say VOX, maybe the person who has let this one all-important company name roll off of their lips will understand that the person whom is hearing VOX will instantly know (as if a cosmic revelation) that they have not only said, but heard all that there is to say about "this" era when bands were bands and rock was pure rock.

VOX. See? Did you notice the instant stage area when sitting in plain sight there were a couple (maybe four, depending on the popularity of said rock band) of VOX amps with numerous octopus-like cords running to all sorts of guitars plus octopus-like (I love that term) cords coiling on the stage to connect with wah-wah pedals, fuzz boxes and all types of electronic sound translators.

This was rock, man. Real rock. The kind of rock that VOX inspired. Oh, there were a few vague competitors: Marshall and Sunn amps some used by the late guitar wonder, Jimi Hendrix and others, but my money went on VOX for the staying power of such an amplifier being made so sturdy that it would have taken a professional wrecking crew to take one apart before the eyes of the young rock lovers.

Roadside Guitars and  Marshall amps used by  disbanded Blue Cheer and other faded rock bands.
Roadside Guitars and Marshall amps used by disbanded Blue Cheer and other faded rock bands. | Source

Three Interesting Financial Facts About VOX:

  • Vox Media's $380 million funding round announced today makes the company theoretically much more valuable than the Washington Post's sale price of $250 million last year, but it also comes in at less than half the $850 million BuzzFeed was valued at in its latest funding round earlier this year.
  • Vox Media and BuzzFeed have roughly similar reach - around 150 million uniques a month - and both are regularly cited as the shining examples of new media businesses built on a solid bedrock of technology and web culture.
  • Both Vox Media CEO Jim Bankhoff and BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti have strongly affirmed their brand's dedication to journalism, in particular how they plan to successfully marry content to analytics. Both also focus on the importance of video to their future strategy, and how their focus on technology is not only liberating but an essential part of their future investments and diversification.

Well, You Might Argue

that rock and roll bands who played to inside and outside venues needed the whole package of getting a cute rock band's name (painted on the front of their bass drum), and with the lead singer and back-up singers having hair so long that the audiences couldn't see their eyes, not that the "condition" of most of these rock fans wanted to see the band's eyes, but the entire rock experience hinged upon one name: VOX. Face it. You know that I'm right.

I am not playing the bad guy, but look at most famous rockers and you will see a VOX amp or two sitting so pristine at the side or back, but all well in plain sight as the band wailed and wailed until every concert goer had been rocked until they passed out.

It was all because of VOX. I am telling you that successful rock bands always came in second. Can you imagine for a moment watching The Who or Steppenwolf doing their gigs with plain black guitar cords plugged into some odd-looking monstrosity? Impossible. It was a trainwreck waiting to de-rail. But if you replay those rock video tapes or 8 mm reels that you bootlegged by paying your best buddy, "Frank," who was 21 and forged himself a fake press pass and let the arena management let "Frank" secure himself with his Bell camera (the ones you see in most Vietnam films) and also "Frank" was so stoned as he filmed whatever band that you and your friends pooled your money to pay him to get this film without being arrested, you will let your now-adult intelligence see clean, sharp-looking white guitar cords drilled into a few dozen VOX split-level amps with speakers blaring "Born to Be Wild," as the teen concert goers were in a rock frenzy, but in total unison as they shot up their peace sign.

Yes, it was VOX then. And it is VOX now. Untainted. Uncompromised quality. And this was given credit to the waves of success given to that novel-thinking Hank Marvin who saw the future and knew that VOX and rock bands were a marriage made in circuit boards.

Man, what a time to be wild and young in free America.

Paul Revere and The Raiders  Museum note VOX amp in background.
Paul Revere and The Raiders Museum note VOX amp in background. | Source
Blue Cheer prior to moderate success.
Blue Cheer prior to moderate success. | Source

Let's Talk About Those Other Rock Bands

such as The Who, really didn't push "using" VOX, but destroying this brand of amp when The Who were just starting out, or was that just breaking out? I cannot answer. But all I know is that Pete Townsend, Who's lead guitarist, did all that was possible to not only wreck, but disintegrate the VOX amps along with the drums and other equipment that could made to emulate expensive fireworks going on on the Fourth of July.

Not only did Hendrix use VOX, but The Who, Paul Revere and The Raiders, The Brotherhood (spin-off from The Raiders), Rolling Stones, and the "mecca" of rock legend, The Beatles. Yes, the Fab Four used VOX and went everywhere they played. From arena to auditorium, VOX was there.

Let's not leave out bands that debuted on Dick Clark's Where The Action Is or Action 68 or whatever number was hip were: The People, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and lots more, but I won't wear out my lists.

Hey, when it came to VOX amps, there was no hokus pokus or flimsy wiring work made from short cuts and kick backs. Hank Marvin's VOX was in all things, real. Without hidden agenda. An amp that could take the abuse and still gain the respect of said rock bands--good or average in rockdom.

Please Read The First Paragraph in Text Capsule Above

To All Died-in-the-wool Rockers: Which Amp would you prefer?

See results

Let's Embark on My Own Amp Theory

concerning the bands who used VOX as opposed to Marshall amps. Okay? There was a real rock band, well, I could say a jamming, hard rock band who went by The Blue Cheer. This band consisted of: Dickie Peterson, Leigh Stephens, Paul Whaley and lots more guys who went in and out (mostly out) of this band. This band played rock, hard rock, acid rock, and some heavy metal. "Whatever side their LP was buttered." I recall an article that I read in WVOK Scene Magazine, the magazine for young, hip people (such as I was once upon a time and let it slip by) where a rock critic had such guts as to sincerely criticize Blue Cheer. But get this. This band swore by Marshall amps--all 12 split-level with full volume on the 12 amps in studio and in concert.

Honestly, Blue Cheer re-recorded Summertime Blues, an oldie by Eddie Cochran, 50s rocker legend friends with Buddy Holly, but Blue Cheer did a few more concerts and recorded a few LPs, but guess what? They imploded. Went nowhere.

But would they have went via this dark territory of pain, disgust, and a destroying ache from not buying more records and retiring more successfully if . . .they had chose to use VOX amps as opposed to Marshall?

You tell me the results. I am not one to gloat.

Blue Cheer band prior to break-up.
Blue Cheer band prior to break-up. | Source

In Plainest of Terms

I can tell you that once you were seated in any concert venue where any or other rock heroes were billed to play, all you had to do to get the total rock experience was just inhale slowly and just let your eyes glue to the VOX amps, endure the emcee's opening remarks and let the band rip. It was as if you had drank a potent magical potion (before the concert) which kicked in right on time and you felt as if you "were" the rock experience. And all thanks to VOX. Did you hear me? All thanks to VOX.

I promise you that there was not a huge, elaborate bus or three who went via caravan following the rock bands of note, that VOX did not travel on board withhis each bus on each band. Kinda like a virus, but better to have a company that built amps travel with these bands and not have to spend one thin dime on advertising, but just being seen and used by these same bands (who are now watching their money draw interest). That's all.

Genius, that completely describes the rock (and VOX) experience.

Pure genius.

Good night, Sulligent, Alabama.

And a heart-felt thanks again to VOX and Hank Marvin.

U2 on Vertigo Tour concert  November 21, 2005, Madison Square Gardens, New York.
U2 on Vertigo Tour concert November 21, 2005, Madison Square Gardens, New York. | Source

© 2017 Kenneth Avery

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