In all the complex ongoing events in human life on planet Earth, a couple of events happened a few days ago that got my attention. They prompted a little more reflection than usual.
This past Thursday, April 5, 2012, two different men passed away from life on Earth, one German, one English. Ferdinand Porsche and Jim Marshall both reached the end of their days on this day. This is noteworthy for more than one reason.
Neither of these men were what you would call a household name, but there are many people in the world who know very well who they were, because of their work, and many who were not really aware of them specifically did know their family name as a manufacturing brand name; for Porsche automobiles, and Marshall guitar amplifiers.
Both of these men designed things. The things they designed were very highly regarded, and popular, regarded by people around the world as being among the best, or the best, of the kind of thing they were.
Ferry Porsche designed the Porsche 911, a sports car that, for many people, defines their idea of what the perfect ulitmate sports car is, and even the people who don’t think it goes quite that far probably agree that this particular machine ranks among the most significant automobiles ever. Herr Porsche created the 911 around 1962, fifty years ago.
The 911 has quite a history. Over the past 50 years, there have been many variations and updates, and design evolution, including specialized racing version variations, but with the racing versions still completely based on the production model. A friend who works in high level motorsports has had the recent racing version variations of the 911 as a central feature in his work for some years now, as the current version 911 has always been a factor in the GT classes of sports car racing. The most amazing thing about this is that, even though there have been updates and developments and evolution, the 911 is not just a model name that has been carried through a long series of car designs by a car manufacturer. Even with the variations and evolution, in basic essence, it’s still the same car. The configuration and form are still basically the same, a 911 today looks like the 1963 911. There is no other story in automotive history like this.
Jim Marshall started designing and building guitar amplifiers with his own name back around the mid sixties, and they were immediately popular. Writing a detailed story about this could go on for a while, with a huge long list of well known accomplished guitarists who have utilized Marshall amps as a core essential working tool in what they do.
As with automobiles, opinions vary in this department about the best is, but in music, in the territory of electric guitar, everybody would agree that Marshall amplifiers have been massively significant, a central part of an immense amount of music over decades. Many would very definitely argue without doubt in their minds that they’re the best, and this is revolves around a majority of people still being most fond of the amp design Marshall created in the sixties.
Like I said, the coincidence of the passing of these two men really gets my attention.
It’s not just that on the same day, two men died who both had very long successful working lives. It’s not just that they were both designers, and successful ones. It’s not just that so many people, in their respective areas, regard the things they designed so highly, as among the best or the very best of these kinds of things.
It’s all that, with the fact that the things these men designed are still around in their same essential basic form, just details tweaked, and still phenomenally well regarded and respected and popular, used with excellent results in doing what these things do, when the designs are now around 45 to 50 years old.
What an absolutely extraordinary thing.