Jeff Beck 'Was on Another Planet'

Innovative guitarist was inducted into the Hall of Fame with the Yardbirds and as a solo act
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2023 7:10 PM CST
Jeff Beck Played With Imagination
Jeff Beck accepts the Grammy for best Pop Instrumental Performance for "Nessun Dorma" during in 2011 in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

Jeff Beck, an innovative and creative guitar virtuoso skilled enough to once take Eric Clapton's place in the Yardbirds, died Tuesday. Beck's publicist said the cause of death was bacterial meningitis, Variety reports. He was 78. "Jeff could channel music from the ethereal," Jimmy Page, a friend since childhood who was in the Yardbirds with Beck, posted Wednesday on social media. "His technique unique. His imaginations apparently limitless." A two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, once with the Yardbirds and once as a solo act, Beck won eight Grammy awards. He recently had toured with Johnny Depp after the two made an album together.

After joining the band in 1965, Beck brought feedback, sustain, and fuzz to the pop hits of the Yardbirds, a band rooted in blues, as he was. After an illness and a breakdown, per Rolling Stone, Beck left the Yardbirds late the next year. He founded the bluesy Jeff Beck Group, whose vocalist was Rod Stewart and bass player was Ron Wood, a band that broke up after producing two albums. Beck's critical and commercial peak may have been in the mid-1970s, per Variety, when the English musician made two instrumental jazz-fusion albums, Blow by Blow and Wired. In the early 1980s, he appeared only at benefit concerts, and he later sat out a couple of years with tinnitus.

"Jeff Beck has the combination of brilliant technique with personality," Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers wrote when Beck came in fifth on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. Slash once said: "It's a lot easier to appreciate Beck’s guitar playing if you're a guitar player. He just has such a natural control over the instrument." On Wednesday, Stewart tweeted, "Jeff Beck was on another planet." When Beck was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 for his solo work, he said in his speech that the honor was unexpected. "I thought the Yardbirds was as close as I'd get to getting in. I've gone on long after that and gone through different musical changes," Beck said. "It's very nice to hear that people have been listening." (Read more obituary stories.)

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