|The history of the Vox amplifier line is inexplicably tied to the fortunes...and misfortunes...of the succession of the eight UK firms that have owned the Vox marque since 1957. A brief ownership history of Vox follows.
Founded in the early fifties as the Jennings Organ Company of Dartford Kent, UK and renamed Jennings Musical Industries in 1957, JMI developed and manufactured the original designs for the AC-4, AC-10, AC-15, AC-30, AC-50 and AC-100 amplifiers, amongst others. JMI was privately owned by founder Tom Jennings. The main amplifier engineers were Dick Denney and Derek Underdown.
VSEL concentrated on promoting the recently introduced solid state amplifier designs. VSEL also produced some hand wired AC-30 and AC-50 amps. No new amp models were introduced in the VSEL period. VSEL was eventually shortened to VSL, for Vox Sound Limited. VSL as well filed for bankruptcy in 1969.
|Tom Jennings sold a controlling share in JMI to the British electronics conglomerate Royston Industries in 1964. Royston continued the use of the "JMI" brand on all Vox products. Tom Jennings, Dick Denney and Derek Underdown were retained. Some of the manufacturing, especially organ production, was moved from Dartford to a Royston facility in nearby Erith, Kent (see photo at right). The UL Series (705, 715, 430, 730, 460, 760, 4120 and 7120) amplifiers and the solid state amplifiers (Traveller, Virtuoso, Conqueror, Defiant, Supreme, Dynamic Bass, Foundation Bass and Super Foundation Bass) were introduced during the Royston era.
By 1967, Dick Denney had left Vox and Royston fired Tom Jennings. Through no fault of Vox, Royston filed for bankruptcy in 1968.While Royston was working through the UK bankruptcy courts, a number of former JMI executives were able to cut a deal with the bank to resume production of Vox. They named their new venture Vox Sound Equipment Ltd. or "VSEL" for short.
West Street Vox Works, 1967, Erith Kent - Photo Courtesy Roland Bukalo
A British banking firm named Corinthian Securities held the assets of VSL while in bankruptcy. Vox was treading water during the Corinthian era. Aside from a updated Jaguar Organ, ironically renamed "Corinthian," no new products were introduced in this period.
Birch-Stolec Industries purchased Vox from Corinthian Securities in 1970 and moved the manufacturing facilities from Erith, Kent to Hastings, Essex. The "VSL" name was retained. Birch Stolec owned Lemark Transformers, a major Vox creditor from the VSEL bankruptcy. The V100 head, a 100 watt, all tube, printed circuit amplifer was introduced by Birch-Stolec as were the first printed board versions of the AC-30 and AC-50. They also produced slightly revised versions of the solid state Vox amps introduced by JMI in 1967. Rick Huxley, former bassist for the Dave Clark Five, became sales manager.
Dallas Musical Industries (aka Dallas Arbiter) had previously produced the "Sound City" amplifier line before purchasing Vox from Birch-Stolec in 1973. Dallas replaced the problematic printed circuit board AC-30 and AC-50 amps introduced by Birch-Stolec with hand wired models similar to the original JMI designs. Dallas also introduced the AC-120, Battery/Mains Escort and the Escort 30 amplifiers.
In 1978, Dallas sold Vox to Rose Morris (RM). Rose Morris was the distributor of Marshall Amplification throughout Europe throughout the 1970s. RM purchased Vox from Dallas in 1978 as a hedge against losing their distribution deal with Marshall. The name of the company was shortened from Vox Sound Limited to "Vox Limited." Rose Morris introduced the Escort 50, V125 stack, the Venue and "Q" series amplifiers and a number of iterations of the AC-30. Paul McCartney still tours with Vox AC-30 heads produced by RM.
Korg purchased Vox from Rose Morris in 1993 and started the most prolific period of Vox amplifier development since the JMI era.