Jeff Beck: So Long

The news of Jeff Beck’s passing was a surprise, even at age 78. Beck was active and seemed in otherwise in very good health. Bacterial meningitis.

My last Jeff Beck blog included his recent album with Johnny Depp. I enjoyed the album and purchased a copy. That was a surprise, I was ready to dismiss it, but it won me over on first listen.

Beck and Johnny Depp

The first Beck album I purchased was Blow By Blow, a mixture of rock and jazz fusion. From there, I collected his albums, although a few of his latter albums perplexed me. Beck, like Neil Young, prefers not to repeat himself, and enjoys broadening his sound and collaborations.

Beck replaced Eric Clapton in The Yardbirds, but did not stay long. Beck and Jimmy Page were in the same lineup! Like Clapton, Beck did not stay in bands very long before moving on, that involved his own bands and musical styles. He pushed boundaries more than staying in the mainstream lane.

I think I’ve seen Jeff Beck three times in concert. Once in the 1970s, once in the early 2000s, and the last time was several years ago. Beck was never the headliner, but was never the opening act. His band came onstage, did their thing, and left to huge ovations. I’ve been asked to describe his music to those unfamiliar with the name, and it’s always a challenge to find the words – description eluded him.

The original Jeff Beck Group (after leaving The Yardbirds) included singer Rod Stewart and guitarist/bass player Ron Wood. How’s that for a lineup? Surprisingly, that band mostly stayed together from 1967-1969.

Aynsley Dunbar, Beck, Rod Stewart, Ron Wood.

Beck and Stewart would occasionally reunite, but not for very long. They tried touring together, but that lasted only a few shows before Beck bolted. Beck even did some demos for Stewart for an album. “I did some demos for him, real down-home blues like Muddy Waters and Elmore James. I was going to give it The Jeff Beck Group treatment; Truth times two. But he wasn’t into that.”

Beck and Brian Wilson started an album project together. In the middle of recording, Wilson’s people wanted them to tour, so they did some show, before the whole thing fell apart. “For four days I sat there and didn’t even know Brian was in the room. He was so quiet; he never uttered a syllable,” Beck told an interviewer. Non of the music has surfaced.

Jeff Beck was an original. Rolling Stone ranked Beck as the number five guitarist of all-time. Those rankings, like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are worthless, in my opinion. It’s all made-up and lacks credibility. Beck was one of the greatest guitarists; the man had a style all his own and a melodic finesse of the fretboard like no other guitarist. His mastery touched many musical genres. Thankfully, he left behind a discography and legacy we will continue to enjoy.

Rest in peace.

Beck performing “A Day in the Life”

2 thoughts on “Jeff Beck: So Long

  1. Jeff Beck’s death also came as a surprise and frankly shock to me. I guess bacterial meningitis is a nasty disease.

    While I don’t want to pretend I know his music in great detail, I liked him as a guitarist. His tone was unique and pretty amazing.

    I saw Beck twice (in 2016 with Buddy Guy – unfortunately, they didn’t play any songs together!) and in 2018 (sharing a bill with Ann Wilson and Paul Rodgers as part of a tour with the corny name ‘Stars Align’). Beck was amazing in both of these concerts!

    Liked by 1 person

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