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Jon Pickett Interview

JJ : Jon, what was your role in the Vampower story?

JP : I was a sales man at S.E ents late 60's early 70's.

JJ : As well as dealing with Bolan directly, I also heard you had some input into the vamp cabs.

JP : The cabs were actually designed and built by Henry Glass and Co. (Hi Watt cab makers). I do recall as having redesign the cab fillets with Henry.

JJ : Were the cabs ever plain black?

JP : No, they always had the same basket weave. Later on we switched from Celestions to Goodman speakers. I wish I could tell you a good reason why they did that - but it was all simply about cost cutting.

JJ : How did you get to meet Marc Bolan ?

JP : Rehearsing in a pub at Islington. I actually sold Marc his brown Gibson Les Paul Custom. He was a regular customer at S.E Ents in those days. I think I went to his T.Rex rehearsals at that pub six or seven times. I also bought down one of the first Vamp amps for Marc to try out. In the very early days the amps were known as Vamp and then later as Vampower. Marc was just starting to bring electric guitar into his sound around this era too.

JJ : What did Marc like most about Vamp amps.?

JP : The look, the name! Guitarists at the time were very conservative but Marc got into them straight away. He really liked the bite control which helped him get raunch into his sound without turning up the amps volume at excessive levels. He also liked the amp to interact with his guitars volume control.

JJ : Marc used a lot of Vampower amps and cabs over the years . JP : Believe it or not- he wasn't on a sponsorship deal! He actually bought the amps from us at cost. JJ : Who else bought a Vamp at the time?

JP : Mic Abrahams from Bloodwyn Pig I recall.

JJ : Why did they keep changing the logos and what happened to the first Vamp "lady" logo design.

JP : Well, A certain manager at the company was very conservative. He wanted the amp to be more commercial and less -shall we say- ‘Vampish?” There always seemed to be this fight at Vamp between being too conservative and pushing the envelope too far.

JJ : Any idea how many Vamps/ Vampowers were actually made?

JP : Not a great deal. I know we had a few other outlets for them but I only would have sold round 40 or 50 at my time at S.E Ents.

JJ : What happened in the end?

JP : Well- Dave Roffey left . He was the main direction and gave the company its energy and focus. Combined with too much cost cutting, it all began to fall apart. Hence the end of Vampower.

photo by Mick

photo by Mick Abrahams

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