Jeff Beck, one of rock’s most prominent guitarists, died at the age of 78.
The British guitarist rose to prominence as a member of the Yardbirds, replacing Eric Clapton, before co-founding the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart.
In the 1960s, his tone, presence, and, most all, loudness revolutionised guitar music, influencing movements like as heavy metal, jazz-rock, and even punk.
Beck’s death was announced on his official Twitter account.
“On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing,” the statement said.
“After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”
Beck stated in 2009, when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the second time, “I play the way I do because it allows me to come up with the sickest sounds conceivable.”
“Isn’t that the point now? I’m not concerned with the regulations.
“In fact, if I don’t break the rules at least ten times in each song, I’m not doing my job right.”
“Jeff Beck was on another world,” he posted on Instagram, beside a photo of the two. In the late 1960s, he took Ronnie Wood and me to the United States with his band, the Jeff Beck Group, and we haven’t looked back since.
“He was one of the few guitarists who, when performing live, would truly listen to me sing and respond. Jeff, you were the best, my friend. Thank you so much for everything. RIP.”
US rock band Hollywood Vampires, comprising Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Tommy Henriksen, likewise saluted “the demise of our good buddy and guitar legend”.
“Jeff’s remarkable skill and passion for guitar have been an inspiration to us all,” the band said in a statement. “He was a great pioneer, and his music will carry on his legacy. Jeff, rest in peace.”
Elsewhere, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page paid tribute to Beck as “the six-stringed warrior” and hailed his “seemingly unlimited” musical imagination which could “channel music from the ethereal”.
In another rock tribute, Rolling Stones singer Sir Mick Jagger uploaded a video of the pair playing together, saying music has lost “one of the finest guitar players in the world” and “we shall all miss him very much”.
Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath stated it had been “such an honor” to know and play with Beck, adding, “I can’t convey how saddened I am…”
And Queen guitarist Sir Brian May, who described Beck as “the ultimate pinnacle of guitar playing” and a “damn fine human being,” said he was at a loss for words.
Kiss members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley also acknowledged their surprise.
Simmons termed the news “heartbreaking”, while Stanley said he had “blazed a route tough to follow. “Play now and forever”.
“He was loved by everyone in the know; the guitarists’ guitarist!” singer Paul Young said on Twitter.
On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing. After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss. pic.twitter.com/4dvt5aGzlv
— Jeff Beck (@jeffbeckmusic) January 11, 2023
Geoffrey Arnold Beck, who was born in Wallington, Surrey, fell in love with rock & roll as a youth and built his first guitar as a teenager.
“I’ll build you a solid body guitar for five pounds,” he subsequently told Rock Cellar Magazine. “Five pounds, which to me was 500 back then [so] I went ahead and did it [myself].
“I constructed the first one in 1956, since Elvis was out and everything you heard about pop music was guitar. Then I became fascinated. I’m sure many more feel the same way.”
He left Wimbledon Art College after a brief period to play with Screaming Lord Sutch and the Tridents.
When Eric Clapton departed the Yardbirds in 1965, Jimmy Page proposed bringing in Beck, and he went on to perform on singles like I’m A Man and Shapes Of Things, where his innovative use of feedback influenced musicians like Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix.
“That [method] happened by accident,” he later told Johnnie Walker of BBC Radio 2.
“We played bigger venues about 1964-65, and the PA was inadequate. So we increased the level and discovered that feedback would occur.
“I started using it because it was controlled – you could play tunes with it. I did this once with the Yardbirds at Staines Town Hall, and afterwards, this man says, ‘You know that strange noise that wasn’t meant to be there? If I were you, I’d keep it in mind.’
“So I told him, ‘It was deliberate, mate. ‘Go away.'”
Going instrumental | Jeff Beck Death
The guitarist stayed with the Yardbirds for nearly two years before announcing his retirement from music and releasing his first solo single, Hi Ho Silver Lining.
However, he swiftly returned with the Jeff Beck Band, whose first two albums, Truth (1968) and Beck-Ola (1969), lay the groundwork for heavy metal.
However, the band was dissatisfied, with a US tour frequently devolving into disputes and physical clashes.
Singer Rod Stewart and bassist Ronnie Wood left to form the Small Faces (later The Faces), and Beck had to put his career on hold after being injured in a vehicle accident.
When Beck recovered, he reformed his band, but their records were commercially unsuccessful, and Beck went solo in 1975.
That same year, he collaborated with Beatles producer George Martin on an album called Blow By Blow. Beck’s lyrical, mellifluous guitar playing virtually substituted the parts of a lead vocalist, a style he would adopt for the most of his career.
Blow By Blow reached the top ten in the United States and was certified platinum; Beck swiftly followed it up with 1976’s Wired (also produced by George Martin) and the 1997 performance album Jeff Beck With The Jan Hammer Group Live.
The musician retired to his estate outside of London after the tour featured on the CD and went silent for three years.
“I can’t do it every night because the pitch I play at is so intense,” he subsequently stated.
In the 1980s, he worked with Nile Rodgers on the album Flash, which featured his first breakthrough single – a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready with Rod Stewart on lead vocals – and garnered him a Grammy Award.
In 1987, he appeared on Mick Jagger’s solo album Primitive Cool, and in the 1990s, he collaborated with musicians such as Roger Waters and Jon Bon Jovi, as well as contributing to Hans Zimmer’s score for the Tom Cruise film Days Of Thunder.
However, his solo production stagnated until the release of 1999’s You Had It Coming. Which included Imogen Heap on vocals, and was followed in 2003 by an album simply titled Jeff.
Around this time, he began incorporating more electronic and hip-hop elements into his work. Which resulted in his fourth Grammy win for the turbulent, shape-shifting instrumental Plan B.
In the 2010s, he travelled extensively, including a co-headlining tour with Beach Boy Brian Wilson.
The two had wanted to record together, but arrangements fell through. Instead, Beck became friends with actor Johnny Depp, with whom he collaborated on a full-length album, 18, in 2022.
Jeff Beck Death News
But the musician’s reputation resides in the balance of his playing’s fluidity and aggressiveness, his technical mastery matched only by his enjoyment of ear-crunching discord.
“It’s almost as if he’s saying, ‘I’m Jeff Beck. I’ll be right there. And you can’t ignore me,'” said Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers in an essay for Rolling Stone’s list of the Greatest Guitar Players of All Time. In which Beck was ranked eighth.
“Even in the Yardbirds, he had a melodic but direct tone – bright, forceful. And edgy, yet sweet at the same time. He was clearly a serious player, and he was going for it. He didn’t hold back.”
“He’d simply keep getting better and better,” Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin reportedly said. “And he abandons us, simple mortals,” he says.