By Mark Kennedy | The Associated Press
Jeff Beck, a guitar virtuoso who pushed the boundaries of blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll, influenced generations of shredders and became known as the guitarist’s guitarist, has died. He was 78.
Beck died Tuesday after “suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis,” his representatives said in a statement released Wednesday.
Beck first rose to prominence as a member of the Yardbirds and then embarked on his own in a solo career that has included hard rock, jazz, funky blues and even opera. He was known for his improvisation, love of harmonies and the whammy bar on his guitar of choice, the Fender Stratocaster.
“Jeff Beck is the best guitarist in the world,” Aerosmith lead guitarist Joe Perry told the New York Times in 2010 — that only happens once every generation or two.”
Beck was part of the late ’60s rock guitarist pantheon that included Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. Beck has won eight Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice—once with the Yardbirds in 1992 and again as a solo artist in 2009. He was included in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” fifth place time.”
CONTINUE READING: Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck reunite at the Hollywood Bowl
Beck has played guitar with singers as diverse as Luciano Pavarotti, Macy Gray, Chrissie Hynde, Joss Stone, Imelda May, Cyndi Lauper, Wynonna Judd and Buddy Guy. He recorded two albums with Rod Stewart – 1968’s Truth and 1969’s Beck-Ola – and one with a 64-piece orchestra, Emotion & Commotion.
“I like a chaotic element in music. That feeling is the best ever, as long as you don’t have too much of it. It has to be in balance. I just saw Cirque du Soleil and it felt like complete organized chaos,” he told Guitar World in 2014. “If I could turn that into music, it wouldn’t be far from my ultimate goal, which is to amaze people with chaos and beauty at the same time.”
Highlights of his career include working with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice to form the power trio that released Beck, Bogert and Appice in 1973, touring with Brian Wilson and Buddy Guy, and a tribute album for the late guitarist Les Paul, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Party (in honor of Les Paul).”
Geoffrey Arnold Beck was born in Surrey, England and attended Wimbledon Art College. His father was an accountant and his mother worked in a chocolate factory. As a boy, he built his first instrument out of a cigar box, a picture frame for the neck, and strings from a radio-controlled toy airplane.
He was in a few bands – including Nightshift and The Tridents – before joining the Yardbirds in 1965, replacing Clapton but replacing Page just a year later. During his tenure, the band created the memorable singles “Heart Full of Soul”, “I’m a Man” and “Shapes of Things”.
Beck’s first hit single was the 1967 instrumental “Beck’s Bolero,” which featured future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, and future Who drummer Keith Moon. The Jeff Beck Group – with Stewart on vocals – were later booked to perform at the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, but their performance was cancelled. Beck later said there was unrest in the band. “I could see the end of the tunnel,” he told Rolling Stone in 2010.
Beck was friends with Hendrix and they performed together. Before Hendrix, most rock guitarists focused on a similar style and technical vocabulary. Hendrix blew that up. “He came along and reset all the rules in one night,” Beck told Guitar World.
Beck teamed up with legendary producer George Martin – also known as “the fifth Beatle” – to help him create the genre-blurring jazz-fusion classics “Blow by Blow” (1975) and “Wired” (1976). . He teamed up with Seal on the Hendrix tribute Stone Free, formed a jazz fusion group led by synthesizer player Jan Hammer, and honored rockabilly guitarist Cliff Gallup with the album Crazy Legs. In 2016 he released Loud Hailer.
Beck’s guitar work can be heard on the soundtracks of films such as Stomp the Yard, Shallow Hal, Casino, Honeymoon in Vegas, Twins, Observe and Report and Little Big League.
Beck’s career never reached the commercial heights of Clapton. A perfectionist, he preferred to make critically acclaimed instrumental records and largely left the limelight to devote his time to classic car restoration. He and Clapton had a strained relationship early on, but became friends in later life and toured together.
Why did the two wait about four decades to tour together?
“Because we were all trying to be big bananas,” Beck told Rolling Stone in 2010. “But I didn’t have the luxury of hit songs that Eric has.”
Beck is survived by his wife Sandra.
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/01/11/jeff-beck-guitar-god-who-influenced-generations-dies-at-78-2/ Jeff Beck, guitar god who influenced generations, dies at 78 – Orange County Register