Vox Amps: Hard-Driven, Loud, Nasty, and Enduring
Writer’s note: this hub is in NO way a personal endorsement for VOX amplifiers and their available sound equipment. This hub is only a personal viewpoint of when I was young and the mid-1960’s when Rock was maturing.Thanks, Kenneth.
History of VOX Amplifiers
Warning to Older Folks: This Piece is About
loud rock and roll music, the kind where both the bands of the early 1960's and their followers, sang, danced, but mostly shook their heads to a dangerousy-close to having a seizure. I know. I was there.
Instead of giving you the "all about this or that," I am going to cut into the meat of this topic: VOX Amplfiers. At first, I hated these loud "mouth machinery" that sat behind the rock bands belllowing such guitar and singing decibel range, that I just knew that I should be seeing Security and maybe th local Police to charge onto the stage and kick the band to the curb and toss those sexy VOX amps to the stage--causing electronic wiring and circuity to blow billowing smoke, sparks, and end as ultimate destruction.
By the way, that last sentence just might have been the gimmick that Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon, better known as The Who, was searching for to break into the Rock Music Scene. (did you like that hip word that I used: Scene?). If you ever watched in person or on TV, in the early days of The Who, these guys "worked" hard at the end of their concert to smash, kick, destroy, their amps which included throwing Townsend's guitar (neck first. His guitar, not his own neck) into the front of their giant-size stacks of VOX Amps while drummer, Keith Moon was destructing his set of drums. Probably Pearl, I do not know.
But their gimmick worked. And worked fast and well. It was not but a few days that the Who's management met with VOX and knocked-out a deal for their boys to use and destroy (all if possible) their high-gauge amps before the eyes of the audience and TV viewers--and honestly, with the first few times of destroying VOX amps, it was at most, shocking and some girls shrieked like a girl on a black and white horror movie, but all of the shock did not last. Suddenly the Who was forced to write "real" songs, but use VOX, the only amps that had stayed with them from the beginning.
The Who on Smothers Brothers--Look Closey
This is Not Just About
the Who. Even though I do like re-telling you about my days of following and memorizing Rock Music lyricds, band names, concert info and how I could hijack my parents' TV so I could catch a rock band, any rock band, who was going to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show (e.g. The Beales; Rolling Stones; Eric Burdon and The Animals), and at the acme of prime time variety shows: The Smothers Brothers who did promote The Who, Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix. All but Hendrix endorsed SUNN amplifers. Someone had to play the role of the "rebel" so Hendrix went against the flow when other bands swore by VOX.
As a quick footnote: The Who DID, in all reality, destroy their VOX amps, drums, guitars on the song, "My Generation" on The Smothers Brothers Show.
Then When Rock Music and VOX
seemed to have some cold relationship issues, in walked the sharp-thinkers at ABC Television who pulled-off what is now said to be THE television coup to end all coups. This was when ABC produced a teenage show with Rock Music and it was broadcast every weekday, Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. In the daytime. When anyone whose veins have Rock Music running through them, are out sacked-out at this early time of the day. But it worked like gangbusters and the Program Wizard, Dick Clark helped bring life to the show. Just look at what Clark did with his long-running teenage music/dance show on Saturday mornings from 10:30 until 11:30 a.m., remember Bandstand? It was first called American Bandstand, for those of you who have forgotten.
There I go again on a needless tangent. I should not have went in-depth with Clark, Where The Action Is and ABC's preemptive attack on viewers' faithful daytime programming, but I can tel you about THE linkage between a Rock Band that every teenager with a mop of long hair, instantly fell in love with their music. Paul Revere and the Raiders were regulars on Action and launched several of their hits: "Kicks," "Stepping' Out," and "Big Airplane Strike,"to name a few.
I hate to bring you down, but it was NOT Revere's music and musicianship, but their association with VOX amps. Their guitaists, Drake Levio and Phil Volk, always used those white electric guitar cords that made their flashy Hollywood-style of Rock stay in the minds of the teenage crowds. I also pretended to be in that "in” crowd, but when you live in a mega-rural county in northwest Alabama, you and your family does not have that much, so one uses his or her imagination to fill-in the holes in your life.
As The Matured Musicians Came Along
such as David Crosby; Steve Stills; Graham Nash and Neil Young, they presented an obvious mixture of hard blues and rock with that distinctive background. CSN&Y went the distance from their release of “Woodstock,” written by folk heiress, Joni Mitchell and then like dominoes, Neil Young felt as if he was not being acknowledged as with Crosby, Stills and Nash, so he, as hippies used to say, split for greener sets and concert dates, not just because he liked to play before crowds, but to help support his wife, maybe two, with alimony payments that came whether he played or not.
Yes, one instance had it for Young to use an electric guitar and don’t you know, it was plugged into VOX, the medium style and Young made the sound so fluid and settled that I found myself getting an urge to drift from Rock to Young’s music with a soft country flavor blending with a blues flavor for his fans.
For everyone who is addicted to the history of businesses, Vox is a musical equipment manufacturer founded in 1957 by Thomas Walter Jennings in Dartford, Kent, England. And to think, I was only four when Jennnings turned out his first VOX Amp. It would be 10 to 12 more years before my buddies and I fell in love with VOX Amps, because the amps with that signature grill with the criss-crossed design, and the name, VOX was mounted in the top left of the amp.
We fell for VOX, before we fell in love with girls. It’s a shame. Girls that we knew only came into our lives and after a short period of time, left us with hurt feelings. But not VOX, they have been here still going strong for 62 faithful years.
Sure wish that we could say that about our former girlfriends.
July 3, 2019__________________________________________________________
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© 2019 Kenneth Avery