Remembering the rock legend Jeff Beck 1944-2023
One of the greatest and most influential rock guitarists of all time
Remembering the rock legend Jeff Beck 1944-2023
2023 begins with a sad note as the legendary Jeff Beck passes at age 78. Beck, who rose to stardom during the 1960’s as both a solo artist and a member of The Yardbirds, became a guitar legend during the early stage of his acclaimed and awarded career
Born on 24 June 1944 in London, England, Jeff Beck once said that he first heard an electric guitar when he was six years old and heard Les Paul playing “How High the Moon” on the radio.
Beck first met another future rock legend, Jimmy Page when both were teenagers, a friendship that extend throughout their lives. During the early 1960’s he became a local sensation in the London club scene, where he came across several future legends who were giving their first steps in the business such as the Rolling Stones. In March 1965, Beck was recruited by the Yardbirds to succeed Eric Clapton on the recommendation of Jimmy Page, who later on would also join the band.
A valuable testimony of that era is the dual lead-guitar performance titled “Stroll On” that was filmed for the 1966 Michelangelo Antonioni cult film Blow Up. After leaving The Yardbirds, in the late 1960’s, Beck released his debut solo album “Truth” in 1968 and shortly after formed The Jeff Beck Group, which included Rod Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. They released their debut album “Beck-Ola” in 1969. Due to his rising popularity and talent, several bands tried to recruit him during that period, including Pink Floyd and in 1969, following the death of Brian Jones, the Rolling Stones. Throughout the 1970’s, Beck’s star rose to its peak, and by then he became a established name in music worldwide. He performed and collaborated, being live or in studio, and as songwriter with multiple know and less known names. But, despite his fame, and recording two hit albums (in 1975 and 1976) as a solo act, Beck did not establish or maintain the sustained commercial success of many of his contemporaries and bandmates such as Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton as a solo artist.
In 1981 Beck made a series of historic live appearances with Eric Clapton at the Amnesty International-sponsored benefit concerts dubbed The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball shows and he maintained his relevance as an enduring rock act throughout the 1980s. The 1990’s saw him collaborating also with the new generation of rockers such as Jon Bon Jovi, in his 1990 solo debut album “Blaze of Glory.” In 1990, Beck played the main solo of the album’s title song, which was also the theme song to the movie Young Guns II. Jeff Beck was inducted to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1992 as a member of The Yardbirds. In 2000 Beck won his third Grammy Award, this one for ‘Best Rock Instrumental Performance’ for the track “Dirty Mind” from You Had It Coming and the song “Plan B” from the 2003 release Jeff, earned him his fourth Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
Jeff Beck was inducted a second time into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 4 April 2009, as a solo artist. The award was presented by his friend Jimmy Page. In the ceremony, he performed “Train Kept A-Rollin'” along with Page, Ronnie Wood, Joe Perry, Flea, and Metallica members James Hetfield, Robert Trujillo, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Jason Newsted.
In 2015, Beck was ranked No. 5 in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists” On 16 April 2020, Beck released a new single, in which he collaborated with Johnny Depp to cover John Lennon’s song “Isolation”, explaining that this was a first record release from an ongoing musical collaboration between the two. On June 2022, Jeff Beck appeared in the news after Depp appeared with him at The Sage in Gateshead, following his victory in the high-profile defamation case against his ex-wife Amber Heard. Both artists also had performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London earlier in the week; their first single from their collaborative album 18, titled “This Is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr”, was announced on 10 June 2022.
Also in 2022 Jeff Beck colaborated on two tracks from Ozzy Osbourne’s new album, the title track “Patient Number 9” and “A Thousand Shades”.
Throughout his whole career, Jeff Beck earned wide critical praise and received the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance six times and Best Pop Instrumental Performance once. In 2014 he received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. His last solo studio album was Loud Hailer, released in 2016.
Jeff Beck died from bacterial meningitis at a hospital near Riverhall on 10 January 2023, at the age of 78. RIP
Look back at the famous scene in the cult film “Blow Up”, 1966, where The Yardbirds perform “Stroll On”, featuring the dual lead guitar of Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page
Watch Jeff Beck & Jimmy Page performing together Beck’s Bolero, Immigrant Song, Train Kept A Rollin at Jeff Beck’s Rock And Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2009
Also read the three exclusive Pop Expresso reviews on three The Yardbirds and Keith Relf releases
Watch more 1960’s related videos
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