Cliff Cooper, Founder & CEO of Orange Amps:
When we opened the shop, we painted it inside and out in a really bright shade of orange. Even from a distance you couldn’t help but notice it – the shop front had this luminous, really powerful aura. However, shop owners nearby complained and the council told me to change it back to its original dark brown colour. I wouldn’t agree, and after a plethora of letters had exchanged hands, the council decided to let it go. I think they took the view that it didn’t really matter because the shop was soon to be demolished anyway.
We opened the ground-floor premises as a music shop on September 2nd 1968. The basement studio wasn’t covering its overheads so I was forced to sell my band’s Vox equipment in the shop in order to pay wages. It sold the same day – we were now in the music retail business. The main distributors at that time for Marshall, Gibson and Fender would not supply us even when I offered to pay them up front, so I was forced to sell second-hand guitars and amplifiers. We began manufacturing our own amps at the start of 1969. That was also the year that Vox went into liquidation and so there was room for another amplifier company. My background in electronics proved very useful and, needless to say, I called the amplifiers Orange. That’s how it all started.
The shop was very cramped. You can see the stairs going down to the studio on the right in this photo which was taken after the Customs & Excise swoop [covered in a later post].