At age 78, one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time, Jeff Beck, passed away.
Before joining the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart, the British guitarist first gained notoriety as a member of the Yardbirds, where he took Eric Clapton's place.
Heavy metal, jazz-rock, and even punk were all affected by the way he transformed guitar music in the 1960s through his tone, presence, and—most importantly—volume.
On his official Twitter account, Beck's demise was announced.
The statement read, "On behalf of his family, we share the news of Jeff Beck's loss with deep and profound regret."
"He unexpectedly developed bacterial meningitis, and yesterday he peacefully went away. His family requests discretion as they mourn this immeasurable loss."
Beck said, "I play the way I do because it lets me to come up with the sickest sounds conceivable," when describing his playing technique in 2009.
"Isn't that the point now? The regulations are not important to me.
In fact, "I'm not doing my job correctly unless I breach the rules at least ten times in every song."
Geoffrey Arnold Beck, a musician who was born in Wallington, south London, fell in love with rock and roll as a young child and built his first guitar as a teenager.
He subsequently told Rock Cellar Magazine, "The man next door replied, 'I'll build you a solid body guitar for five pounds. "I went ahead and did it [myself] since five pounds, which was 500 to me at the time, was the price.
"I constructed the first one in 1956 when Elvis was popular and the guitar dominated pop music news. I eventually became fascinated. The same probably applies to many people.
He attended Wimbledon Art College for a brief while before leaving to perform with the shock-rock band Screaming Lord Sutch and the Tridents.
Jimmy Page suggested hiring Beck after Eric Clapton departed the Yardbirds in 1965, and Beck went on to perform on singles like I'm A Man and Shapes Of Things, where his innovative use of feedback influenced musicians like Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix.
He then admitted to Johnnie Walker of BBC Radio 2 that the "method" had come about accidentally.
"Around 1964–1965, when we performed in larger places, the PA was insufficient. As a result, we increased the level before learning that comments would be received.
"I began using it because you could manipulate it and make music with it. I once performed this with the Yardbirds at Staines Town Hall, and later, this man remarks, "You know that odd noise that wasn't meant to be there? If I were you, I'd leave that out.
"I responded, "It was intentional, mate." Move along."
'Pink toilet seat'
The guitarist played for The Yardbirds for over two years before announcing his retirement from the music industry and releasing his debut solo single, "Hi Ho Silver Lining."
The song, which was under three hours in length and charted in both 1967 and 1972, was his sole top 20 hit in the UK. However, the singer's ambivalence for it is well known.
Producer Mickie Most, who Beck claimed "wasn't the slightest bit interested in recording my style of music," persuaded him to record the song.
He put 20,000 gold disks on the wall that read, "I do know what's going on," so I couldn't tell him, "Look, you don't know what's going on," he told Rolling Stone magazine in 1971. "So I wasted my career doing junk tunes for a few years."
The receptionist was singing it when he left the studio after finishing the recording. That's when I realized it was a catastrophe, he claimed.
He went on to call the song a "pink toilet seat around my neck," but he eventually came to terms with it and even performed it on Jools Holland's TV program in 2015.
Following that brief experience with popularity, he founded the Jeff Beck Group, whose debut records Truth (1968) and Beck-Ola (1969) employed a fierce blues style that served as the inspiration for heavy metal.
However, the band was dissatisfied because their US tour frequently descended into disputes and physical altercations.
In 1970, singer Rod Stewart and bassist Ronnie Wood left to form the Small Faces (later The Faces), and Beck had to put his career on hold after getting hurt in a car accident.
Beck put up a second lineup of his band after he had recovered, but their recordings were not popular in the marketplace, therefore Beck went solo in 1975.
In same year, he collaborated with Beatles producer George Martin to record the album Blow By Blow. Beck's lyrical, melodic guitar playing virtually substituted the parts of a lead vocalist on this entirely instrumental track, a strategy he would follow for the majority of the rest of his career.
After Blow By Blow, which reached the top 10 in the US and was given a platinum disc, Beck released Wired in 1976, which was also produced by George Martin, and Jeff Beck With The Jan Hammer Group Live in 1977.
The musician retired to his villa outside of London after the tour depicted on the album and went silent for three years.
He later said, "The pitch I play at is so severe that I just can't do it every night.
He worked with Nile Rodgers in the 1980s to create the album Flash, which featured his first successful single—a rendition of Curtis Mayfield's People Get Ready with Rod Stewart on lead vocals—and won him a Grammy.
He performed on Mick Jagger's solo album Primitive Cool in 1987, and in the 1990s he continued to collaborate with musicians like Jon Bon Jovi and Roger Waters in addition to adding to Hans Zimmer's theme for the Tom Cruise film Days Of Thunder.
However, until the 1999 release of You Had It Coming, which featured Imogen Heap on vocals, his solo output slowed down. In 2003, he released an album simply titled Jeff.
He began adding more electronic and hip-hop elements to his work about this time, which led to the turbulent, shape-shifting instrumental Plan B, which earned him his fourth Grammy.
In the 2010s, he went on a lot of tours, including one as a co-headliner with Beach Boy Brian Wilson.
The pair had intended to create a joint album, but those arrangements fell through. Instead, Beck became friends with actor Johnny Depp, with whom he collaborated on the 2022 release of the full-length album 18.
As a member of the Yardbirds in 1992 and as a solo performer in 2009, Beck received two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
His playing's fluidity and aggressiveness were balanced, leaving a legacy of technical mastery rivaled only by his passion for jarring discord.
He seems to be introducing himself as Jeff Beck. Right here, I am. And you can't ignore me," the Heartbreakers' Mike Campbell penned in an article for Rolling Stone's list of the seven greatest guitarists in history, where Beck came in at number seven.
"Even in the Yardbirds, he had a melodic but direct tone that was both brilliant, energetic, and edgy. He was clearly a committed player who was heading towards it. He was not holding back."
Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page famously observed, "He'd just keep getting better and better." And then he departs from us, mortals.
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