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Duration: 30 minutes

In the early 1960s British pop groups conquered the world. But as the Beatles, the Stones, the Shadows, the Dave Clark Five, the Yardbirds and many others took to the stage they had one thing in common - they shared the platform with Vox amplifiers. Some of the nation's top professional musicians including Queen's Brian May and Bruce Welch of the Shadows, along with the factory workers of the time, recount the story of how an unlikely small company in unglamorous Dartford hit the big time and defined the sound of the 60s in Britain. Presented by Iain Lee.

Last on

Mon 30 Jan 2012 03:20 BBC Four

  • Background: Vox Pop

    The Beatles, the Stones, the Shadows, the Dave Clark Five and the Yardbirds have one thing in common: they shared the platform with Vox amplifiers.

    Brian May and other music legends help tell the story of how a small music company based in Dartford defined the sound of Britain in the 60s.

    Some of the nation's top musicians, including Brian May, Bruce Welch of the Shadows, Justin Haywood, and Francis Rossi, and Vox workers of the time, tell how a small company in Dartford, Kent, hit the big time.

    Contemporary bands including The Horrors tell how the Vox sound influences their music today.

    Vox Pop: How Dartford Powered the British Beat Boom, presented by Iain Lee, recounts the story of how in the 1950’s the owner of a small music company in Dartford - which specialised in importing accordions -spotted that there was a rising interest in new-fangled electric guitars.

    But there was a post-war trade embargo on American amplifiers such as Fender and Gibson, so he made great sounding British amps to fill the gap in the market.

    New up-coming band The Beatles loved them and Vox became part of their sound and their stylish on-stage image.

    The Rolling Stones, who also came from Dartford, loved their innovative guitars as well as the amps.

    Suddenly everyone wanted Vox equipment and the company hit the big time.

    The programme tells the compelling untold story of how Vox drew the attention of the pop world to Dartford; made a fortune and then lost it all by 1967.

  • The Vox amp

    The Vox amp

    The Vox amp drew the attention of the world to Dartford in Kent.

  • Vox: Brian May

    Vox: Brian May

    Guitarist Brian May is a huge fan of the Vox amp.

  • Video: Brian May and Vox

    Video: Brian May and Vox

    The Vox amp was the box which revolutionised music in the early 1960s and helped British pop groups succeed in conquering the world.

    From the Beatles and Yardbirds to the Rolling Stones and the Shadows, the distinctive Vox amplifier became part of their sound and helped power the British beat boom.

    Brian May from Queen talks about how the Vox amp helped him to create his successful sound.

    And Alan Harding, one of the Vox factory workers of the time, shares his memories of how a small company in unglamorous Dartford hit the big time and created a musical revolution.

    Watch a video feature from BBC News...

    BBC News: Brian May on how the Vox amp powered a music revolution
  • Iain Lee and Brian May

    Iain Lee and Brian May

    Presenter Iain Lee talks to Queen guitarist Brian May about the Vox amp and its influence on his music over the years.

Credits

Presenter
Iain Lee
Producer
Vince Rogers
Director
Vince Rogers
Executive Producer
Linda Bell
Participant
Brian May

Broadcasts

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