John Bowers – a recorded tribute

This wonderful recording comes from the late 1980s. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, it is a tribute to John Bowers by his close friend the BBC presenter Peter King. John Bowers was the founder of Bowers & Wilkins, but also the man responsible for many of the developments in loudspeaker design that enhance your enjoyment of music today, no matter what hi-fi system you have.

You can listen to this recording by clicking on the links below or download it by right clicking and saving them to your desktop:

Download John Bowers recording, part one Download John Bowers recording, part two

This recording encapsulates a history of Bowers & Wilkins, with details on the development and launch of some of our most famous speakers, including the likes of DM6 and the John Bowers Active 1. But it is particularly interesting in its descriptions of John Bowers the man, and the lengths that he would go to in his drive to produce the perfect loudspeaker.

It also includes numerous touching stories about John Bowers, or ‘JB’ as Peter King refers to him. These include the time he jumped on Concorde to deliver replacement drive units to the Philadelphia Orchestra so that a recording of Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra could take place.

It also highlights John Bowers’ love of music, and his desire to have it reproduced as accurately as possible in the home. Peter King also manages to bring to life Bowers & Wilkins demos of the past, with excerpts from the recordings used – some of which were his own voice – and the effect that they were designed to emphasis.

The second half of this recording includes a rare interview with John Bowers, where he talks about the driving forces behind his passion for speaker design, and the company’s underlying philosophy after 21 years in business, which remains true after 46 years in business.

He explains: “The underlying philosophy of this company has always been that the best insurance we can ever have is to expand into research, to try and produce better products. If you can make a better product, then you will sell it.”

It ends on a touching note, discussing the death of John Bowers, but also how his drive and personality had a lasting effect on sound reproduction in gernal, and the drives, goals and practices of Bowers & Wilkins in particular.

You can read more about John Bowers on our website


Discover some of the key milestones and products from the company he founded in a small converted garage in Sussex in 1966 here.

About Peter King

Peter King was one of the finest broadcasters of his generation. He served at Tobruk and El Alamein in World War II. At the end of hostilities, he was posted to the newly created British Forces Broadcasting Service in Hamburg, where he learnt the elements of his craft, before joining the BBC Overseas Services in 1946. As well as his usual duties of continuity and news reading, he quickly showed his aptitude for a wide range of activities, excelling in the presentation of popular music, working with the orchestras of Joe Loss, Geraldo and George Melachrino, to name but a few.

He was also a frequent presenter of the Proms to an overseas audience. Peter always remained loyal to the Overseas Services, but made periodic forays into television in the 1950s and to Radio 2 in 1965, where he presented the highly successful “Late Night Live” which mixed studio interviews with OB contributions. Peter King died in September 2010 aged 89.



  • Peter says:

    I love B&W speakers I use 808 and they were ahead of their time specific mastering reference quality built for the digital age designed with custom 1000 watt amplifiers. They just dont make them like they used to both the 808 model and John Bowers. Each one a Fantastic one of a kind masterpiece.

  • MYO says:

    I use 684 since 26.4.2009 . Serial No.0006191,0006192.I crazy B&W spearker . I love it.I want to buy 802 Diamond Speakers but can’t buy this model in ours.Somany people like them . There is no dealer in Myanmar/Burma.

  • steppy says:

    I am a luky owner of a couple of CM5, fantastic! Yesterday my favourite dealer introduced me to the precious sound of the new 804 Diamond. Nothing in this world sounds like that loudspeaker. Thank you again John Bowers!

  • Glenny says:

    I have had nothing but B & W speakers all my life. 2 sets of DM 220’s, then one set of DM 330’s and then a set of 602’s and now a set of 685’s. Can’t go wrong with these. I would use nothing else. I once bought a set of Bose speakers at twice the cost and after listening to them against the B&Ws, I returned them to the hifi shop who reluctantly took them back There was no comparison.

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