Jeff Beck Dead At 78
Jeff Beck, one of the most acclaimed and influential guitarists in rock history, has died. “On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing,” reads a message posted to his social channels. “After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.” He was 78.
Beck was born in Wallington, England in 1944. As a teenager, while attending Wimbledon College of Art, he began playing in rock, blues, and R&B bands. He also befriended future Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, who recommended Beck to replace Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds in 1965. During 20 months with the band, he only appeared on one album, Roger The Engineer, but he built up a reputation as one of the most talented, inventive, and electrifying guitarists in the British blues-rock scene. During part of his tenure, Page joined the band, an instantly legendary pairing that came to an end when Beck was fired from the Yardbirds for being a frequent no-show.
He began releasing music with the newly formed Jeff Beck Group, including Rod Stewart on vocals and Ronnie Wood on rhythm guitar, but was derailed by a fractured skull from a car crash at the end of the ’60s. When he returned to action with the Jeff Beck Group in the ’70s, he had recruited a new lineup and incorporated elements of jazz and soul into his rock music foundation. He continued to play blues-rock in the short-lived supergroup Beck, Bogert & Appice with Americans Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice. By the mid-1970s he was fully immersed in jazz-rock fusion, including tours and collaborations with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the Jan Hammer Group, and Return To Forever.
In the ’80s, Beck teamed with Clapton, his fellow ex-Yardbird, on projects including various benefit concerts and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” also featuring Sting, Phil Collins, and Donovan. He deployed a range of singers including his former bandmate Rod Stewart on the 1985 album Flash, one of his bigger commercial successes thanks in part to MTV. He continued to evolve his style with the instrumental fingerstyle guitar album Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop. In the ’90s he stayed busy with a number of collaborators including Kate Bush, Roger Waters, Hans Zimmer, and more. The collabs with everyone from the Beach Boys to Kelly Clarkson continued into the 21st century; meanwhile, Beck piled up Grammy Awards and maintained his status as an elder statesman of rock guitar. Most recently, he recorded an album with Johnny Depp.
Ronnie Wood shared the following statement on Instagram:
Now Jeff has gone, I feel like one of my band of brothers has left this world, and I’m going to dearly miss him. I’m sending much sympathy to Sandra, his family, and all who loved him. I want to thank him for all our early days together in Jeff Beck Group, conquering America for the first time. Musically, we were breaking all the rules, it was fantastic, groundbreaking rock ’n’ roll! Listen to the incredible track ‘Plynth’ in his honour. Jeff, I will always love you. God bless
And Rod Stewart shared this statement:
Jeff Beck was on another planet. He took me and Ronnie Wood to the USA in the late 60s in his band the Jeff Beck Group and we haven’t looked back since. He was one of the few guitarists that when playing live would actually listen to me sing and respond. Jeff, you were the greatest, my man. Thank you for everything. RIP
“With the death of Jeff Beck we have lost a wonderful man and one of the greatest guitar players in the world,” Mick Jagger added. “We will all miss him so much.”
Below, check out a brief survey of Beck’s music.