Jeff Beck, the The blues-rock innovator and two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who revolutionized guitar playing, has died aged 78.
Beck’s family confirmed the death of the former Yardbirds guitarist on Wednesday, a day after Beck’s death. “On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing,” Beck’s family said in a statement. “After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he passed away peacefully yesterday. His family are asking for privacy while they process this huge loss.
Eight-time Grammy nominee Beck has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, both as a member of the Yardbirds and for his work with his own band Jeff Beck.
Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, bandmate of Beck’s Yardbirds who inducted the guitarist into Rock Hall in 2009, wrote on social media Wednesday: “The Six-String Warrior is no longer here for us to admire the spell he could weave around our mortal emotions. Jeff could channel the music of the ethereal. His unique technique. His seemingly limitless imagination. Jeff, I will miss you with your millions of fans. Jeff Beck rest in peace.
“Jeff Beck has the combination of brilliant technique with personality,” wrote Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers when Beck placed number five on rolling stonehe’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists. “It’s like he’s saying, ‘I’m Jeff Beck. I’m here. And you can’t ignore me. Even in the Yardbirds, he had a melodic yet direct tone – bright, urgent and edgy, yet gentle. at the same time. You could tell he was a serious player and he was going for it. He didn’t hold back.”
Before Beck discovered the guitar, his mother wanted him to play the piano. But once his parents saw how Jeff, born in Surrey, England on June 24, 1944, took up the guitar, they allowed it. “[My parents] complained [about the guitar]but they didn’t stop me,” he said rolling stone in 2018. “I guess they thought, ‘If he’s got the guitar, he’s not going to fly. The only friends I had were pretty low-end; most of them were within walking distance of the prison. Eventually, Beck hooked up with another boy who was an aspiring guitarist in his neighborhood, Jimmy Page. The two musicians shared a passion for rockabilly music and tried to impress each other with their skills.
He attended Wimbledon Art College London, where he played with Lord Sutch before auditioning for the Yardbirds at the encouragement of Page, who had become a successful session guitarist, in 1965 after Eric Clapton left the group because it had become too pop. Nonetheless, Beck remembered frontman Keith Relf as a blues purist. “I thought, ‘You can be a purist and you can be poor; I will do what I think is best,” he said. Beck had a national bent for psychedelia, experimentalism and jazz (two of his favorite musicians in the 60s were Eric Dolphy and Roland Kirk) and his avant-garde side was a perfect match for the pop scene of the 60s. The Yardbirds quickly recorded the UK chart-topping hits ‘Heart Full of Soul’ and ‘Evil Hearted You’, which they followed with ‘Shapes of Things’ and ‘Over Under Sideways Down’, their first US hits. .
Beck’s childhood friend Jimmy Page joined the band in 1966, first on bass and then eventually as co-lead guitarist. The Yardbirds performed “Stroll On” (a version of Jimmy Burnette’s “Train Kept a-Rollin'”) for a sequence in Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Explode, in which she smashed a Pete Townshend-style guitar. “Well, clearly The Who were asked to do it and they said no,” Beck recalled. “I was not able to discuss when they paid us a lot of money. … [Antonioni] just said, ‘You’re going to break your guitar.’ And I said, ‘No, I won’t.’ It was a sunburst Les Paul. He said, ‘We’ll buy you another one.’ He didn’t understand that you don’t do that to most guitars. So they rented six beginner guitars, and they were so cheap they came in a clear plastic bag. … I thought Pete would give me a stick, but I never did.
But Beck would no longer be in the group when the film is released. He resigned in November 66 after illness and depression. In 1967, he recorded the pop single “Hi Ho Silver Lining”, a track on which he sang lead vocals, which became a hit, while its B-side, “Beck’s Bolero”, foreshadowed Led Zeppelin with Page and bassist John Paul. Jones accompanying Beck alongside The Who’s Keith Moon and pianist Nicky Hopkins. That same year, he founded the heavy blues-focused band Jeff Beck, which included vocalist Rod Stewart and future Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood on bass. The group released two albums – ’68’s Truth and the 69s Beck Ola — and turned down an appearance at Woodstock before Beck disbanded the set, leading to Stewart and Wood joining Faces.
Beck then hoped to form a band with Tim Bogert and Vanilla Fudge’s Carmine Appice, but a car accident, in which he fractured his skull, delayed the band’s formation for a year and a half. Around this time, Beck decided to explore his interest in Motown and attended some of Stevie Wonder’s sessions during talking book. At some point Beck started playing drums and when Wonder came in he liked the groove and wrote “Superstition” around it. With Bogert and Appice in another band at the time, Beck formed another band Jeff Beck, who released two more albums with a funkier sound, before finally assembling the mighty trio Beck, Bogert and Appice in 1972. They only lasted about two years, although Beck remembered BBA’s version of “Superstition” as “a great heavy metal song”.
When Beck reappeared, he had moved from blues rock to instrumental jazz-fusion. His 1975 album, Step by step, was a surprise hit, reaching number four in the US and going platinum. Beatles producer George Martin helmed the album, and Beck later credited him with saving his career. “I thought, ‘Looks like we’re playing in the room – it’s clear and fabulous,'” Beck later said of the sound of Step by step. “That first album was a joy.” He supported the record by touring with the Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1975 and releasing Wireda collaboration with Mahavishnu keyboardist Jan Hammer, in 1976. He took a few years off and returned with another collaboration with Hammer, Back-and-forthin 1980.
Perhaps worried he was doomed to guitar oblivion, he teamed up with Stewart again in 1985 Flash album for a cover of “People Get Ready”, which became a hit. “Escape” from that album, an instrumental, won him the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance the following year. He would win another Grammy four years later with Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop with Terry Bozzio and Tony Hymas.
“On the one hand, I was glad the guitar was still king,” Beck said of the ’80s.[Guitarists] a large flag for the guitar was flying. … I had a lot of respect for Vai and Eddie Van Halen. Awesome. Let them have that. As long as it didn’t interfere with my style – and it doesn’t – I was happy.
He spent the rest of the 80s working as a guest musician, adding solos to albums by Tina Turner, Mick Jagger, Roger Waters and Jon Bon Jovi. But he struggled to replicate his success as a solo artist for decades. The 90s found it bouncing rockabilly on the 93s crazy legs to techno, to the 99s Who else! But he managed to earn Grammy nominations for his instrumental rendition of The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” and his track “What Mama Said.”
This story develops…