Hank Marvin

Brian Robson Rankin (born 28 October 1941), Newcastle upon Tyne, known by the stage name Hank B. Marvin, is an English guitarist, lead guitarist for The Shadows. The group, which primarily performed instrumentals, was formed as a backing band for singer Cliff Richard. Marvin has a distinctive guitar sound and appearance, primarily using a clean sound with very high reverb and vibrato giving a dreamy effect.


Marvin was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. As a child, he played the banjo and the piano. Hearing one of Buddy Holly's songs made him switch to the guitar, although he occasionally played both instruments on recordings. At 16, he traveled with his Rutherford Grammar School friend Bruce Welch to London, where he met Johnny Foster, Cliff Richard's manager, at The 2i's Coffee Bar ("two eyes") in Soho.

Foster was looking for a guitarist for Richard's upcoming tour of the U.K., and Marvin agreed to join as long as there was also a place for Welch. Foster had actually been looking for guitarist Tony Sheridan at the Two 2i's, but by chance he encountered Marvin. Marvin and Welch joined the Drifters, as Cliff Richard's group was then known, and began their careers as professional guitar players.

They met Cliff Richard for the first time at a nearby Soho tailor's shop, where Richard was having a fitting for a pink stage jacket, and had their first rehearsal with him at his parents' home in Cheshunt.


Hank Marvin played and owned the first Fender Stratocaster in the UK, serial number 34346, finished in Fiesta Red (although Bruce Welch states in his autobiography that the guitar was more of a salmon pink colour), with gold hardware. This guitar, with its tremolo arm, contributed to the Shadows' sound. The guitar was imported from America by Cliff Richard.

Marvin's original sound was achieved with a Stratocaster, a Vox amplifier (AC15 and AC30 models) and a drum echo machine, his first being a Meazzi Echomatic that was shown to him by Joe Brown (of Joe Brown and the Bruvvers fame) as Joe was asked to try it, but couldn't get on with it. He later used a Vox-badged Meazzi, then a Binson Echorec(Drum)Echo Machine, and Roland 301 Space Echo. Currently he is using the Alesis Quadraverb Q20, programmed by Charlie Hall with his "Echoes from the Past" (EFTP).

In 1959 Marvin and Richard searched through a Fender catalogue to find the guitar played by James Burton, Ricky Nelson's lead guitarist. They assumed it must be a Stratocaster because the most expensive in the brochure was a gold-plated example. Burton, however, played the Telecaster, and the Stratocaster was relatively new. Although Marvin used that original guitar between 1959 and 1961, it remained Richard's property and was returned to him when Jennings Musical Industries (the makers of Vox amplifiers and the importers of Fender guitars) outfitted the whole group with matching Fiesta Red Fender guitars. The 1959 instrument is now owned by Bruce Welch - a gift from Cliff Richard in the 1970s for his production work on several of hit albums. Richard took the ridiculous decision to have the guitar sprayed white before giving it back to Welch who had it restored, which meant that the history of this unique guitar which included the scratches, knocks, faded paint etc had been wiped out.It must still however be one of the most valuable guitars owing to its history.

In the early 1960s Jennings named a range of guitar accessories (including plectra, a guitar strap and a Bigsby-styled tremolo unit) after Marvin. They used the Hank Marvin signature tremolo unit on several of their own Vox guitars. More significantly, Marvin also worked with Jim Burns (head of the Burns London guitar company) to develop his own signature model: the "Burns Marvin". The "Marvin" appeared in 1964 and a 12-string version called the Double Six appeared a little earlier. The Burns London company was taken over by the American piano-maker, Baldwin, in 1967, and partly as a result of that, the fewer-than-400 original Burns-made Marvins are now sought after. More recently, the revived Burns company made a limited reissue of 2004 signature Marvin guitars with a certificate of authenticity, signed by Marvin. Those instruments were promoted on the Shadows' 2004 Final Tour. Marvin's original Burns guitars had been stolen in 1972 and never appeared again.

Marvin influenced many later guitarists, and Pete Townshend, Mark Knopfler and Andy Powell are among many who acknowledge his influence. Although neither Marvin nor the Shadows were ever well known in the United States, despite several appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, Marvin is listed by Frank Zappa as an influence on the first Mothers of Invention album, and Afrikaa Bambaataa cited the group's first UK number one single "Apache" as a big influence, though it is likely that Bambatta was referring to the cover of Apache by The Incredible Bongo Band (which was massively popular amongst early hip hop DJs due to the extended bongo break).

In Canada, Cliff Richard and the Shadows met with success, especially 1961-1965 when they enjoyed several top 10 hits. Canadian guitarists Randy Bachman and Neil Young have credited Marvin's guitar work as being influences. Carlos Santana's nickname in his formative years was Apache because it was one of the earliest pieces he learned to play.

As well as playing with The Shadows, Marvin has had a successful solo career. He has been willing to experiment with styles and material, doing some purely instrumental albums, some with only vocals (e.g. "All Alone With Friends"), one with only acoustic guitars and one with a guitar orchestra ("The Hank Marvin Guitar Syndicate"). In 1970 Marvin and Welch formed Marvin, Welch & Farrar, a vocal harmony trio which failed to appeal to many Shadows fans or to contemporary music fans. They reverted to being The Shadows in 1973 for the Rockin' with Curly Leads album.

As a writer Marvin was responsible for "Geronimo" for The Shadows and "The Day I Met Marie", and as co-writer with Bruce Welch, Brian Bennett and John Rostill he wrote other hits mainly for Cliff Richard such as on "I Could Easily Fall in Love with You" and "In the Country".

In 1988 Marvin collaborated with French keyboardist and composer Jean Michel Jarre on the track "London Kid", which appeared on Jarre's "Revolutions" album and taking a guest role in the Frenchman's giant Destination Docklands concert at the Royal Victoria Dock. Jarre stated that the Shadows' success had a huge influence on him and his decision to devote the majority of his career to instrumental music.

Marvin and the Shadows reformed for a 2004 Final Tour, which was so successful that a 2005 European tour was also organised.

In 2007, Marvin dueted with French guitarist Jean-Pierre Danel on his hit album "Guitar Connection 2" for a new version of the Shadows' standard "Nivram". The single hits the French charts at #14.

Hank Marvin's name is also used in cockney slang to signify hunger: 'I am Hank Marvin' - 'I am starvin''.



  • 1969 Hank Marvin #14
  • 1977 Hank Marvin Guitar Syndicate (no chart position)
  • 1982 Words and Music #66
  • 1983 All alone with friends (no chart position)
  • 1992 Into the light #18
  • 1993 Heartbeat #17
  • 1995 Hank plays Cliff #33
  • 1996 Hank plays Holly #34
  • 1997 Hank plays Live #71
  • 1997 Plays the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber #41 (includes re-issued tracks by The Shadows)
  • 2000 Marvin at the Movies #17
  • 2002 Guitar Player #10
  • 2007 Guitar Man #6
  • 2008 Stars of Gypsy Swing Le QueCumBar Patrons (Hank Marvin three tracks)#22

Personal life

Marvin lived in the hills above Perth, Western Australia from 1986 but has since relocated to a luxury apartment in East Perth. He is a committed Jehovah's Witness.


External links

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