Rock legend Jeff Beck is dead
Mourning for Jeff Beck: The British rock guitarist and multiple Grammy award winner died at the age of 78. This was announced by his family via Instagram.
For many, he was the unpredictable guitar god, his virtuoso guitar playing really got under the skin. Rolling Stone ranked him number 5 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. But now Jeff Beck is dead.
“On behalf of his family, it is with deep sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s death,” he wrote on his Instagram profile on Wednesday. “After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he passed away peacefully yesterday.” Accordingly, the guitarist died on Tuesday. The musician was 78 years old. His family have asked for privacy “as they process this tremendous loss.”
Jeff Beck was one of the greats. He is also said to have served as a role model for the solo guitarist in the rock satire This Is Spinal Tap, but the world star has always denied that. He was born in a southern suburb of London. His mother wanted him to learn to play the piano, but young Geoffrey – Jeff for short – was so fascinated by American rock ‘n’ roll and blues legends that he built himself a guitar out of cigar boxes. Material for many arguments with his parents, Beck once recalled in an interview with the music magazine “Rolling Stone”, but at least they would not have stopped him: “I suppose they thought: ‘If he has the guitar, at least he won’t go out to steal.’ The only friends I had were pretty shady.”
“I made the strangest noises I could”
His sister introduced him to another electric guitar enthusiast, Jimmy Page, who later went on to form Led Zeppelin. The two became friends. Beck played with various bands in and around London until Jimmy Page recommended him to the Yardbirds to replace their guitarist Eric Clapton in 1965 – he himself did not want to give up his lucrative career as a studio musician. While Clapton was considered more of a purist, Beck had established himself as a string magician who created previously unheard sounds with dexterity, technical tricks and sophistication. He was fascinated by avant-garde and experimental sounds. “I made the strangest noises I could,” he told Rolling Stone.
Beck made a name for himself with The Yardbirds as a musical perfectionist, coining the distinctive riffs on their best-known hits “Over Under Sideways Down” and “Shapes of Things”. In 1966 Jimmy Page joined as second lead guitarist and took over when Beck fell out with the band during a US tour. It was the first of a series of unpredictable decisions that meant that, despite his musical brilliance, he never rose to the ranks of megastars.
Jeff Beck then made it into the UK charts with two singles “Hi Ho Silver Lining” and “Tallyman” and established his signature tune “Beck’s Bolero” before cementing his reputation as a guitar legend with his first solo album “Truth” (1968). He was supported by exceptional musicians such as Rod Stewart, later Stones guitarist Ron Wood, The Who drummer Keith Moon, later Zeppelin member John Paul Jones and keyboardist Nicky Hopkins. However, after two albums as the Jeff Beck Group and only three weeks before their planned appearance in Woodstock, Beck broke up his band.
“He’s one of the greats”
He later worked in many different formations with Mick Jagger, Roger Waters, Brian May, Paul Rodgers and Stevie Wonder, as well as with Tina Turner on her “Private Dancer” album. He played his way through the most diverse musical styles from heavy blues to pop to rock, funk, trance and of course jazz with virtuosity. Only one thing remained: He kept reinventing sound.
Jeff Beck went on tour with Johnny Depp last year, and they also performed together in Germany. The two men are said to have met in 2016. It was said that the chemistry between them was right. The passion for guitars, for cars, the shared sense of humor. “It’s a tremendous honor to play and write music with Jeff. He’s one of the greats and I’m privileged to now call him my brother,” Depp said at the time.
Jeff Beck is survived by his wife Sandra Cash. The two met in 2004. He was 60 at the time and she was 40. A year later, the couple said yes. It was the second marriage for the musician. He was married to Patricia Brown in the 1960s.
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