Beck died suddenly at the age of 78 on Tuesday (January 10) after contracting bacterial meningitis.
Ozzy Osbourne, Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger and more from across the rock’n’roll world have all paid tribute to Beck, while Jack White also took to Instagram to share footage from their 2002 collaboration at London’s Royal Festival Hall, where Beck joined The White Stripes on stage.
Now, May has also shared a video paying tribute to the late guitarist. In the video, he speaks about the song that is “the most beautiful bit of guitar music ever recorded.”
Referring to ‘Where Were You’ from ‘Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop’, May said: “If you [want to] hear his depth of emotion and sound and phrasing and the way he could touch your soul, listen to ‘Where Were You’ off the ‘Guitar Shop’ album. Just Google ‘Where Were You Jeff Beck’ and sit down and listen to it for four minutes. It’s unbelievable.”
He continues: “It’s possibly the most beautiful bit of guitar music ever recorded, probably alongside Jimi Hendrix‘s ‘Little Wing.’ So sensitive, so beautiful, so incredibly creative and unlike anything you’ve ever heard anywhere else. Yes, of course he had his influences too, but he brought an amazing voice to rock music which will never, ever be emulated, or equaled.”
“…Jeff was completely and utterly unique, and the kind of musician who’s impossible to define. And I was absolutely in awe of him.”
Check out May’s tribute to Beck below:
May also spoke about his memories of working with Beck on a song called ‘The Guv’nor.’
He recalled: “He came over to my place here in the studio, played it with me, and we had a laugh,” recalled May. “And he played some incredible stuff. Again, my jaw dropped. I couldn’t really pick up a guitar when he was in the room, because he was so incredible, I just wanted to watch and listen. So he played on the track, and he was, like, ‘Oh, yeah, whatever.’”
“…Jeff Beck is so unique, so influential on every guitarist I’ve ever met in my life. The loss is incalculable. It’s so sad not having him in the world anymore. I still can’t quite compute it in my head.”
A statement from Beck’s representatives confirmed his passing earlier this week. “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 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.”