Presley, The Blackwood Brothers, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Sammy
Davis, Jr, The McGuire Sisters, Arthur Godfrey and Tennessee Ernie
Ford. What did all of these people have in common?
They all knew Jack Marshall!
Born in Holt, Alabama, Jack picked up a love of music very early
in life. Being from a very musical family, Jack started
with the guitar at the age of 5, moved to the violin and later
conquered the joy of his life...the piano.
Some of the first music Jack learned to play on the piano was
classical and by the age of 12 performed a concert that led to
his career in playing
for Gospel groups. Word was getting out that young Jackie
Marshall was one pretty good piano player and that is how the
Hartford Quartet snatched him up. He was now on his way
to his first full-time job!
Times were exciting for Jackie and just when he thought it couldn't
get any better, a quartet from Atlanta heard him play one night.
They knew the Blackwood Brothers needed a pianist and as they
would say, the rest is history. Jack would play with the
Blackwood Brothers for the next ten years.
The Blackwood Brothers, along with Jack were invited to be on
the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts Show. For those of you
who are too young to remember, this is like today's American Idol.
The Blackwood Brothers won the competition and the group became
Two weeks later, tragedy struck when two members of the quartet
were killed in a plane crash in Clanton, AL. They regrouped
and Jack stayed on with the quartet for about five more years.
During his time with the Blackwood Brothers, Jack started marketing
a music course which he wrote and called "The Marshall Plan."
He had over 10,000 pupils in 28 countries. Simultaneously,
he was operating a music store, music studio and had started his
own record label. He was also the first person to help design
a typewriter that would type musical symbols, which he used to
write the piano course.
When Jack was about 20 years old and performing with the Blackwood
Brothers, he met a young boy by the name of Elvis Presley.
Elvis and his mother Gladys would come to church to hear the group
sing. Jackie Marshall became Gladys' favorite piano player.
Some years later, when Elvis had a band, they were all booked
at a Pecan Festival in Texas. The ad poster read, "The
World Famous Blackwood Brothers with Jackie Marshall at the Piano,"
with little letters at the bottom announcing Elvis Presley and
his band. Jack and Elvis became good friends and when Gladys
died, Jack was asked to play at her funeral.
Jack eventually gave up his professional music career. Always
one to plan ahead, he invested in a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise
back in Tuscaloosa. Being on the road all those years took
a toll and he felt he was needed back at home. While closing
things down in Memphis, his family helped to get the KFC restaurants
up and running. Help came by the way of Mom and Dad and
his brother Sam and sister Jane. Over time it has been a
family affair. Now Jack Marshall Foods, Inc. is 28
stores strong with locations in four states...Alabama, Kentucky,
Mississippi and Tennessee.
Jack's great love of music continues and though he loves all music,
his favorite is gospel. He has helped his friend, Zelpha
Wells with her program which teaches piano to school age and under-privileged
children here in Tuscaloosa. Both Wells and Marshall are
members of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
Jack believes mucis is and always will be the universal language
of the soul and is extremely happy to have been a small part of
it. Thus his philosphy to life and business.
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