Vox equipment orders 1962 - 1966


An interesting glimpse of Jennings starting out on its export drives. The Frankfurt Trade Fair of 1962 had just taken place when Andrew Cameron sent his letter to the Board of Trade. Frankfurt 1963 was the first continental Fair attended by JMI.

Note that the sales push had to be paused to allow production to catch up.

Music trade journal, April 1962.

Board of Trade journal, March 1962.


Below, a detail of the agreement with Royston Industries, signed on the 29th January, 1963. Tom and Joan's shares in JMI (the only ones that existed) were purchased by Royston, and Royston in turn issued new ones - 368,000 at one shilling (£18,400).

Detail of the document, dated 29th January, 1963. The Guardian newspaper announced the agreement the next day.

In mid 1962, Tom had announced plans for the re-development of the Dartford Road Works - a new three-storey factory building, among other things. Capital was needed. But as it turned out, expansion took the form of a move (in the autumn of 1964) into the West Street Works in Erith, owned by Burndept Electronics, a fellow member of the Royston Group.

Royston, a fairly considerable property owner in its own right, charged JMI an annual rent for the use of the West Street premises.

Guardian newspaper, 30th January, 1963

A note in the Guardian newspaper, 30th January, 1963, signalling the controlling stake taken by Royston Industries in Jennings, a key moment. From this point profits did not accrue to Jennings alone. The Observer article, 22nd November, 1964, below, hit the nail on the head.

Most international orders will have been shipped by air, probably using BOAC Cargo Services. Below, the loading of a transatlantic cargo plane, 1963.


The Thomas Organ order, 1964 - part 1

From "Beat Instrumental" magazine no. 18, October 1964. The "Million Dollar" contract, signed at the British Musical Instruments (Association of Musical Instrument Industries) Trade Fair, which took place in late August (24th to 29th) while the Beatles were touring the US. For the fair, . Air shipments were flown into Chicago in September.

Amplifier production in the JMI factory at 115 Dartford Road

Published in the local Dartford press, 4th September, 1964. Large box AC50 Foundation Bass sets being packed for export to the States. The image is also on the page on the .

The Vox Works at Erith and the old premises on Dartford Road will have been running at full pelt to keep up with demand.

The Arlington Heights Herald, 17th September 1964 - three weeks or so after JMI had agreed to provide the million dollar's worth of equipment (£350,000 then) to Thomas Organ. Note "just flown in".

The Thomas Organ order, 1964 - part 2

The piece below, published in the music trade press, 3rd December, 1964, clarifies some details of the deal with Thomas Organ - a first order worth 1 million dollars (around £350,000 at the time), and a "second stage" worth $1.5 million (around £534,000). This corroborates a report, published in the mainstream press on 17th November, which also termed the $1.5 million order a "second stage". Evidently the second order, planned in August, was contingent upon the success of the first (a reasonable precaution for both parties).

Music trade journal, December 1964.

"The Birmingham Post", 17th November, 1964. A second order - 1.5 million dollars this time (then equivalent to slightly more than £534,000, however). This second order is sometimes confused with the first.

"The Observer", 22nd November, 1964. Prophetic words.

"Cash Box", 12th December, 1964, relaying the news reported in the "Birmingham Post" in November.

It seems likely that the "Million Dollar Sound" US Vox catalogue had been drawn up and issued by the end of November '64. A full copy of this catalogue .


Coventry Evening Telegraph, 4th February, 1965. Perhaps the outcome of a Trade Fair - but which and when?

Daily Express, 9th February, 1965. More of America. The taking on of further staff.

"Melody Maker" magazine, 13th March 1965, reporting on the .

A further massive order came in during the course of 1965. The extract below is from "The Economist" magazine, volume 216, July 10th, 1965. Click as ever for a larger image.

The upper figure of "$10 million", a good eye-catching number, is echoed in reports published in Billboard magazine.

What underlay the note in the "Economist" was the deal done at the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show at the Conrad Hilton in Chicago, June 27th - July 1st, 1965. The Thomas Organ Co. ordered $2-4 million worth of Vox equipment. "Billboard" magazine records the higher figure.

A schedule of events and partial list of exhibitors is given in "Billboard", 26th June, '65, pp. 45-46.

Billboard magazine, 26th June, 1965

"Billboard" magazine, 31st July, 1965.

Below, a piece in the local Dartford press, 9th July, 1965, reporting the third large order from Thomas Organ - $4 million dollars' worth of JMI equipment placed at the . A further order from Thomas followed in June 1966 (also placed at the NAMM show of that year), but thereafter very little.

In 1965, amplifiers formed a substantial part of the Thomas order. By 1966, however, things had moved on - Thomas promoted its own range of solid state amps in preference to the all-valve models bought in from JMI. Its order in '66 was mainly for guitars and other items. Dealers naturally continued to advertise and sell JMI amps throughout 1966 though.

9th July, 1965.

Billboard magazine, 2nd October, 1965

October 2nd, 1965: "Thomas Organ Co. president Joe Benaron flew here [London] for the closing days of the British Musical Industry's trade fair and talked with Jennings Musical Industry's executives about further marketing of Vox products in the U.S.A. He intends to 'boost the English sound throughout America'."

Liverpool Echo, 27th November, 1965

"Liverpool Echo", 27th November, 1965. Colin Barratt was instrumental in securing numerous orders for Jennings.


"The Coventry Telegraph", 21st January 1966.

Another syndicated report. "The Birmingham Post", 27th July 1966. The order was won by Tom Jennings and Dick Denney at the National Association of Music Merchants show at the Conrad Hilton, Chicago, 10th - 14th July, 1966.

This syndicated report published widely in August 1966. Above, from "The Birmingham Post", 13th Aug. 1966. Perhaps one was meant to sense the creak of the iron curtain being drawn aside.

"Beat Instrumental" magazine, August 1966.

"The Guardian", 26th August 1966 - sales at the British Musical Instrument Industries Trade Fair at the Russell Hotel in late August.

"The Coventry Evening Telegraph", 27th October 1966 - the E.M.E. factory at Recanati.