Jeff Beck / Legendary guitarist’s guitarist dies aged 78

The legendary guitarist Jeff Beck has died aged 78. Beck died after suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis. One of the most influential rock guitarists ever, Beck rose to fame as part of the Yardbirds.

“It is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing,” a family statement read. “After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”

Beck first came to prominence as a member of The Yardbirds after replacing Eric Clapton in the band. Beck was recommended by Jimmy Page. Heart Full Of Soul was the first single released with Beck, who mimicked the sound of a sitar with his guitar using a Tone Bender distortion pedal. This was months before The Beatles first used the instrument.

Beck, through songs such as Lost Woman, Shape Of Things and Over Under Sideways Down, would drive The Yardbirds into popular mid-’60s culture leading to the creation of British psychedelia.

Jimmy Page joined Beck in The Yardbirds in ’66, and the twin guitar attack would record the unorthodox rock single Happenings Ten Years Time Ago. A UK tour opening for The Rolling Stones, would be followed by shows in the US on the Caravan Of Stars tour, though Beck would acrimoniously depart in November.

In 1967 he recorded several solo singles with producer Mickie Most, including Hi Ho Silver Lining and would then form The Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. The album Truth, as Jeff Beck, was released in August 1968 and included his version of the Willie Dixon song You Shook Me. The track, with a similar arrangement, would appear on the first Led Zeppelin album release five months later.

Rod Stewart and bassist Ronnie Wood would quit in 1970 to join the Small Faces. The early ’70s saw Beck collaborate with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice.

Beck’s solo album Blow By Blow was released in March 1975 and showcased Beck’s technical prowess in jazz-rock. The album reached number four in the charts. Beck was fastidious about overdubs and, often dissatisfied with his solos, would return to the studio. A couple of months after the album sessions had finished, producer George Martin received a telephone call from Beck, who wanted to record a solo section again. “I’m sorry, Jeff, but the record is in the shops,” Martin was reported to have said. The late ’70s would find Beck developing his jazz-rock fusion style.

In the ’80s he released Flash, an album produced by Nile Rogers, while Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop (1989) was an instrumental blues-rock album.

In 1987, Beck played on Mick Jagger’s solo album Primitive Cool, and many collaborations would follow, including Guns N’ Roses, Kate Bush, Roger Waters, Hans Zimmer and Jon Bon Jovi.

His last project was 18, an album he released with Johnny Depp, “Interesting things happen,” Beck said, “when you’re open to trying something different.”

In a career spanning six decades, Jeff Beck won eight Grammy Awards. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame twice, with The Yardbirds in 1992 and as a solo artist in 2009.

Jeff Beck was a maverick genius whose influence has inspired many musicians across generations.

“Heartbreaking”, Gene Simmons said. “No one played guitar like Jeff.”

Sleeve Notes

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