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With their bright colours, sci-fi controls and distinctive crest, Orange amps couldn’t have been born in any other decade or any other country.
When Cliff Cooper opened a music shop and recording studio in the summer of 1968, he never imagined that from this near-derelict premises in the heart of swinging London, a sound and a brand would emerge that would still be going strong more than forty years later.
The tone and expertise of a host of famous names went into the development of the first Orange amps. Guitar luminaries like Peter Green and Paul Kossoff plugged into early prototypes at the Orange Shop, and their feedback was baked into the amp circuitry. Orange has sounded like no one else since.
And they haven’t looked like anyone else either. Right from the start, Orange took to heart guitar design legend Les Paul’s maxim that “people hear with their eyes”, and began producing heads and cabinets that once seen, could never be forgotten. All of Orange’s trademark design cues were there from the start: the vivid vinyl covering, the amp control hieroglyphics, and the regal crest, establishing a look that has set the standard for British amplifiers ever since.
As the sixties drew to a close, Orange amps began to be seen on stage with some of the biggest names in music. Fleetwood Mac were the first chart group to go Orange in late ‘68, taking the company’s first half-dozen 100 watt amps to America, and in 1969, Peter Green took the first 200 watt head on their spring tour with BB King. Pretty soon, the list of Orange converts began to fill up with names that still inspire legions of devoted fans today: Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Page, John Mayall, and even James Brown – the King of Soul himself – relied on Orange’s already famous tone.