The news that has shocked the global music industry and has deeply saddened the rock world is the demise of legendary guitar icon Jeff Beck. This was confirmed in a statement on his official Twitter page on January 12 2023.
The statement read, “On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing. After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”
About Jeff Beck, his work and contributions
The British guitar virtuoso and innovator shot to fame after replacing Eric Clapton to join The Yardbirds band in the 1960s. He later went on to form the acclaimed Jeff Beck Group with fellow music icon Rod Stewart.
Born in Wallington, UK, he was originally named Geoffrey Arnold Beck. Right from his childhood, Beck formed a deep fascination for the Rock and Roll genre and built his first guitar as a teenager. After enrolling at the Wimbledon Art College for a short period, he left to play with Screaming Lord Sutch and the Tridents.
In 1965, when Clapton left the Yardbirds, Jimmy Page advised on taking in Beck and he went on to gift musical gems such as “I’m A Man” and “Shapes Of Things.” His adept and skilful use of music feedback influenced stalwarts including Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix.
He played with The Yardbirds for nearly two years and then quit to pursue a solo music career. He launched his first solo single track “Hi Ho Silver Lining” in 1968. He later formed the Jeff Beck Group and its first two albums Truth (1968) and Beck-Ola (1969) were a revolutionary take on the blues, paving the way for heavy metal music.
However, the band soon disintegrated after repeated failures and disagreements among members and Beck went back to his solo career in 1975.
Some of his noted musical endeavours include Blow By Blow (1975), Wired (1976), There and Back (1980) and the concert album Jeff Beck With The Jan Hammer Group Live (1997). The first one was a huge hit — made a place in the US top 10 and was awarded a platinum disc. The completely instrumental album, made with The Beatles producer Geroge Martin, saw the mastery of Beck’s lyrical guitaring that even replaced some portions of the lead vocal — an approach which was repeated in his later works.
Jeff Beck collaborations and other albums
In the 1980s, Beck teamed up with Nile Rodgers for an album named Flash. It contains his first hit single, a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” featuring Rod Stewart on lead vocals. He earned a Grammy Award for this.
In 1987, Beck played in Mick Jagger’s solo album Primitive Cool and collaborated with acclaimed artists such as Roger Waters and Jon Bon Jovi throughout the 1990s. He also contributed to Hans Zimmer’s score for the 1990 film Days Of Thunder.
He released a single studio album You Had It Coming (1999) which was followed by another album called Jeff in 2003. In 2010, Beck went on extensive tours and teamed up with Brian Wilson.
Though the two wanted to record together, the plans did not work out and Beck ended up working with Johnny Depp on a full-length album called 18 in 2022. 18 features a number of original songs written by Depp along with covers of Marvin Gaye, the Velvet Underground and other classic tracks.
Tributes pour in after Jeff Beck’s demise
Following the shocking news of his death, tributes and wishes started pouring in on Twitter and Instagram. From Depp’s band the Hollywood Vampires to Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger and Ozzy Osbourne, celebrities expressed grief as this news marked the end of an era.
(Main and featured image: JeffBeck/ @jeffbeckofficial/ Instagram)