Jeff Beck Obituary, Death – Jeff Beck died Tuesday. 78. Jeff Beck’s family mourns. “He quietly died yesterday after abruptly developing bacterial meningitis,” his spokeswoman stated. “His heartbroken family asks privacy.” Beck ended touring “18” with Johnny Depp. Seven of his eight Grammys were instrumental. In 1965, Beck succeeded Eric Clapton as a quick, imaginative Yardbirds soloist. Feedback, sustain, and fuzz enhanced the group’s pop hits.
After abruptly departing the Yardbirds, where he had joined future guitar star Jimmy Page, he created the Jeff Beck Group with vocalist Rod Stewart, who would later become a solo hit. The volatile band released two albums. Beck established a 1970s R&B band with Vanilla Fudge and Cactus drummer Carmine Appice and bassist Tim Bogert. “Blow by Blow” and “Wired” were his most successful mid-1970s jazz-fusion instrumental albums. Jan Hammer played on the latter album.
Beck, a studio perfectionist, and prickly bandmate, appeared, retreated, retired, and returned from the early 1980s. His subsequent work featured Gene Vincent tributes and techno, electronica, and ambient instrumentals. Double Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. “They kicked me out…fuck them!” he said at a 1992 Yardbirds honor speech. Solo in 2009. Wallington-born Beck. His childhood guitar was homemade (which he constructed in emulation of one of his heroes, the American guitarist-inventor Les Paul). Cliff Gallup, Buddy Guy, and Otis Rush inspired him. Three of rock’s greatest guitarists—Clapton, Beck, and Page—grew up within 15 miles.
Like many young British musicians, his first bands, the Night Shift, the Rumbles, and the Tridents, played American blues and R&B. After tiring of the Yardbirds’ pop-oriented experimentation, Clapton joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in 1965. Jimmy Page advised the Yardbirds to recruit Beck, who immediately shaped their sound. “Heart Full of Soul” (No. 9 in the U.S.), “I’m a Man” (17), “Shapes of Things” (11), and “Over Under Sideways Down” (No (No. 13). The band’s 1966 U.K. album, “Yardbirds,” featured cutting-edge guitar.
Page joined the Yardbirds on bass after Paul Samwell-Smith left in early 1966 then went to Dreja. “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” and “Stroll On,” a remake of “The Train Kept A-Rollin'” from Michelangelo Antonioni’s Swinging London indictment “Blow-Up,” were Beck-only Page’s two tracks. Beck’s guitar broke like Pete Townshend’s in Antonioni’s Yardbirds film. Beck quit the Yardbirds in 1966 for personal and professional reasons. Two years later, Page led Led Zeppelin.
After disowning “Hi Ho Silver Lining,” Beck formed a new band with Stewart, guitarist-turned-bassist Ron Wood, and drummer Micky Waller in early 1967. Studio pianist Nicky Hopkins played. The stormy 1968 debut album “Truth” by Beck alone created the groundwork for heavy metal. “Beck-Ola” (1969), ascribed to the Jeff Beck Group (with Tony Newman replacing Waller) and featuring two crushing Elvis Presley covers and the searing instrumental “Rice Pudding,” was even better.
The group supported Donovan’s thundering “Barabajagal” without Stewart. Stewart and Wood joined the reconstituted mod band the Faces in mid-1969. Beck’s trio with Bogert and Appice was postponed after a 1969 vehicle accident. Around the decade, the guitarist established a quintet with jazzy keyboardist Max Middleton. Although inferior to Stewart’s records, Wood’s “Rough and Ready” (1971) and its 1972 follow-up did well.
Bogert and Appice traveled with Beck following Cactus in 1972. The power trio was established late that year. The band’s lone album, issued in 1973, reached No. 12 in the U.S. and featured a dramatic cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” penned for Beck. The 1983 film and album removed a 1973 appearance at David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” farewell concert, but Brett Morgen’s 2022 documentary “Moonage Daydream” included it. According to folklore, Beck wouldn’t approve of the footage because he didn’t like his pants onstage, but the performance, in which he joined Bowie for “Jean Genie” and “Around and Around,” is not his greatest.
Beck’s next style change would define him. He recorded “Blow by Blow” (1975) with George Martin after leaving Bogert and Appice. The quartet’s talent took it to No. 4 in America and a million sales. Martin produced Hammer and Narada Michael Walden’s instrumental following “Wired” (1976), which reached No. 16 and preceded a successful Beck-Hammer tour. Stanley Clarke and the guitarist toured Japan in 1978. Hammer’s 1980 instrumental album “There & Back” reached 21.