When rock ‘n’ roll goes to work...

Marshall's reaches 50  - with Jim Marshall at the helm
Marshall's reaches 50 - with Jim Marshall at the helm

FOR half a century Marshall Amplification has taken centre-stage in the live arena, escorting some of music’s biggest players through their rock n roll careers.

But Jim Marshall already had music at his core before he reached into amplification.

Jon Ellery

Jon Ellery

He ran a successful music store in London, and many up-and-coming musicians sought out Jim for the best deals, and smart advice they struggled to find elsewhere.

But it was Marshall Amplification that would turn a successful businessman into a worldwide success with an iconic brand.

And it was his decision to move the company to Bletchley in the late 1960s that has given the new city one of its biggest assets.

Leisure editor Sammy Jones caught up with Jon Ellery, managing director of the Marshall brand...

Jon joined the business in 1993 to oversee the IT department, and worked his way through the ranks before taking the reins three years ago.

“It is a very big learning curve,” he admits over a snatched coffee, “But I haven’t just been thrown into it. I have worked with other directors in the company and I am a fast learner.

“It is a unique position to be in, although it’s not just me – I’ve got a good bunch of people behind me too.”

He says working with Jim fuelled him with enthusiasm for the job: “Working with him gave me the passion, and understanding his ethos and the way he liked to do business was invaluable.

“And the music industry is completely different to any other industry. It is far more family orientated and I just got sucked in by it.”

Jim had a well documented difficult start to life, and spent lengthy periods in hospital having been diagnosed with tubercular bones. It meant the young Jim missed out on extensive schooling and could have led to an uncertain future.

But Jim kicked back. He didn’t shirk from hard work and had a thirst for knowledge – the obstacles he faced simply spurred him on.

Jim passed away in April. His death sent shockwaves around the world, as musicians and fans queued up to pay tribute to the man they referred to as The Guv’nor.

“He was really passionate and this company was his lifeblood,” Jon says, “when I began working here, he was always the first person into the office every morning at 6.30am, and the last to go home too.

“The good thing about Jim was he knew everything on the shop floor – everything about how the company ticked, and every nuance of it. He built it up and it was his life.

“Although he was the boss, Jim always liked to work with people and always took the time to listen.

“He used to say ‘No-one knows everything and the day you think you do, is the day you’ve got to give up, because there is always something new to learn.’”

Being head of a pretty full-on rock n roll company isn’t all that rock n roll in itself though.

“I personally don’t fuse the two,” Jon smiles, “I’ve got people looking after that side of the company for me. My role and responsibility is to make sure everything is in place for those who are technically creative to be able to do their bit.”

And late nights of loud living – naturally with the dial turned to 11 – wouldn’t be conducive to running the Marshall empire.

“I get in just before 8am and normally begin by checking the overnight emails, because we are global company, so when we are asleep America is awake, and so on.

“After that, there’s a whole list of things to do – I have meetings with the management team, make sure new products are in place, and that everything is going according to plan. I have a meeting to make sure we are on track financially, and check outgoing sales to ensure we are meeting targets and get a broad overview of how everything is going generally.

“That said, you can come in and then one thing can change the course of the working day, or week.”

But no matter what day to day demands are placed on Jon’s shoulders, his big game plan never changes: “...to see that the company is here and functions for another 50 years,” he says, before getting back to the day job.