2017#3 The one man who inspires everything I do
This week has been a milestone for my family as my grandad, Dick Denney achieved official recognition for his creative genius that changed popular music forever. His name is now on a plaque at the site in Dartford where his inventions were made to be used by some of the most famous musicians in the world.
Grandad was born in Belvedere in the 20s and became obsessed with electronics after being given a crystal radio set as a kid. He was a guitarist and played in various bands but always struggled to hear his instrument as he had a perforated ear drum.
Wanting a louder sound, he started to design his own portable guitar amplifier and developed the AC15 in 1956. His design was bought by an old friend, Tom Jennings who owned a music shop in Dartford. They had worked together during the war at the Vickers munitions factory in Crayford.
They went into business together to develop iconic products under the Vox brand, such as the AC30 amplifier used by The Beatles, The Kinks, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Hollies, Dusty Springfield, The Animals and the Dave Clark Five. This sound was known as “The British Sound” of the sixties. The very first hit with a Vox amp was Apache by The Shadows.
He went onto develop the Continental Organ used by The Doors and the Wah Wah guitar pedal used by Hendrix. Their equipment was sold from a shop on Charing Cross Road in London and my grandad travelled the world demonstrating Vox equipment.
He regularly set up the stage for gigs including the first live appearance of The Beatles on Sunday Night at the London Palladium in 1963. One night he even saved The Beatles’ lives when their huge amplifiers rolled down a warped stage in Scarborough towards them. He held them back through the gig at ear-splitting volume.
Vox’s creative industry put Dartford at the heart of the British sound, a distinctive sound that conquered the world and changed the face of popular music forever. The amps are still used today by Queen, U2, Noel Gallagher and Radiohead.
Our family is proud his creative genius has been recognised by Dartford Borough Council and we hope that the Vox story and the plaque inspire people to carry on shaping the future of the music industry.
Here are my top Vox sounds:
1 Apache, The Shadows
2 Day Tripper, The Beatles
3 The House of the Rising Sun, The Animals
4 Light my Fire, The Doors
5 You Really Got Me, The Kinks
6 Sha La La Lee, Small Faces
7 Voodoo Child, Jimi Hendrix
8 Search and Destroy, The Stooges
9 Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
10 Sunday Bloody Sunday, U2
11 Love will Tear us Apart, Joy Division
12 Come as You Are, Nirvana
13 Supersonic, Oasis
14 Paranoid Android, Radiohead
15 Learn to Fly, Foo Fighters
Listen to the playlist on Spotify.