Legendary guitarist Jeff Beck has died suddenly at the age of 78, a statement from his representatives has confirmed.
“On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing,” the statement read. “After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”
Beck rose to fame with The Yardbirds, whom he joined in 1965, replacing Eric Clapton. Although he remained in the band for only 20 months, the band recorded most of their Top 40 hits with the guitarist, including ‘Over Under Sideways Down’ and ‘Shapes Of Things’.
After making one album with the outfit – 1966’s ‘Roger The Engineer’ – Beck was sacked after consistently going AWOL on tour in the US. After being fired, he formed the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and more.
The Jeff Beck Group released four albums – ‘Truth’ in 1968, ‘Beck-Ola’ in 1969, ‘Rough And Ready’ in 1971, and 1972’s ‘Jeff Beck Group’ – before disbanding in the early ‘70s. However, Stewart and Wood were only present for the first two records and quit the band in 1970 to form the Small Faces. Beck took a break from the band after being injured in a car accident, but revived it with a new line-up for the last two albums. In 2019, Beck and Stewart reunited on stage at the Hollywood Bowl for what was billed as “their most in-depth concert in over 35 years”.
In 1975, he went solo, recording his first album ‘Blow By Blow’ with The Beatles’ producer George Martin. The record went on to chart in the Top 10 in the US.
Prior to joining The Yardbirds, he also made appearances in bands such as Screaming Lord Sutch And The Savages and Nightshift. Later years saw him collaborate with everyone from Nile Rodgers to Mick Jagger, appearing on the latter’s 1987 solo album ‘Primitive Cool’. Since then, he worked with Roger Waters, Jon Bon Jovi, Imogen Heap, and Ozzy Osbourne. In the 2013, he embarked on a joint tour with the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson with whom he had planned to make an album with, but never materialised.
Beck was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame twice in his career – once with the Yardbirds in 1992 and again as a solo artist in 2009. Speaking at the latter ceremony, he said: “I play the way I do because it allows me to come up with the sickest sounds possible. That’s the point now, isn’t it? I don’t care about the rules.
“In fact, if I don’t break the rules at least 10 times in every song, then I’m not doing my job properly.”
His 2009 induction was done by Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, who had originally recommended him to join the Yardbirds. “You’d listen to Jeff along the way and you’d say, ‘Wow, he’s getting really good, Jeff’,” Page reflected at the time. “Then you’d listen to him a few years later and he’d just keep getting better and better and better, and he still has all the way through.
“He leaves us mere mortals just wondering and having so much respect for him. Jeff’s whole guitar style is totally unorthodox to the way that anyone was taught and he’s just really developed a whole style of expanding the electric guitar and making it into something with sounds and techniques that are totally unheard of before. That’s just an amazing feat, believe me.”
Page concluded: “He’s done so much for rock and roll, and he always will.”
Over his career, he collected eight Grammys, winning his first in 1985 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for ‘Escape’ and his last three in 2010 for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for ‘Imagine’, Best Pop Instrumental Performance for ‘Nessun Dorma’, and Best Rock Instrumental Performance for ‘Hammerhead’.
Beck had recently embarked on a tour with Johnny Depp following the pair releasing a collaborative album, ’18’, in July 2022.
This is a developing story and will be updated