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Bruce Keir, co-founder and Technical Director of Blackstar Amplification, dies at 60

Bruce Keir
(Image credit: Blackstar Amplification)

Bruce Keir – co-founder and Technical Director of Blackstar Amplification – has died at the age of 60, the company announced in a Facebook post.

Keir died peacefully with his family last Tuesday, September 14, after battling early-onset Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years. 

Born in Singapore in 1961, Keir's father was a leading BBC radio engineer who exposed him to audio and electronic equipment at a young age. Keir's interest in electronics was compounded by his equally strong love of music, and as a teenager he gained experience working on his brother Bill’s Marshall amplifiers. 

After graduating college, Keir moved to Milton Keynes, England, where he took a position at Marshall Amplification. Starting off as a Design Engineer before progressing to Chief Engineer and then Design Director of the legendary company, Keir played an integral role in Marshall's technological advancements in the '80s and '90s.

It was also during his time at Marshall that Keir met Ian Robinson, Paul Hayhoe and Richard Frost, with whom he co-founded Blackstar in 2007.

Keir designed all of Blackstar's original products – including the Artisan, Series One and HT Pedals – and was also behind the original digital algorithms that became the company's acclaimed ID:Series.

"Under Bruce’s guidance Blackstar has established a world leading guitar technology R&D facility which invests constantly in researching guitar technology and driving forward innovation," read a statement from Blackstar.

"As well as business partner and mentor, Bruce was also a very close friend and played bass in a band with the founding Blackstar team (including Marketing Director Joel Richardson) for years.

"Over the years, Bruce has been an inspiration to many, many people and those who met him will remember the warmth, humor and gravitas of a truly unique individual. Blackstar will make sure his legacy is remembered, protected and strengthened."

In lieu of flowers, Keir's family has set up a donation page to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society

Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at guitarworld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.