Jeff Beck, guitarist who rose to prominence with the Yardbirds in the 1960s and later fronted the Jeff Beck Group, died Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at a hospital near his home in Surrey, England. He was 78.
His family said in a statement today: “It is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing. After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”
Fellow Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page said in a post on Twitter, “The six stringed Warrior is no longer here for us to admire the spell he could weave around our mortal emotions. Jeff could channel music from the ethereal. His technique unique. His imaginations apparently limitless. Jeff I will miss you along with your millions of fans.”
Considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, and often called a guitarist’s guitarist, Beck influenced generations with his innovative sounds melding blues, jazz, and rock. He has cited major influences such as Les Paul, Ravi Shankar, Chet Atkins, Django Reinhardt, and Steve Cropper.
Beck won eight Grammy Awards and ranked fifth on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. He was inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: as a member of the Yardbirds in 1992 and as a soloist in 2009. He joined the Yardbirds in 1965 when he replaced Eric Clapton and appeared on several Yardbirds’ albums, leaving the group in 1966. In 1967, he formed the first iteration of the Jeff Beck Group which included vocalist Rod Stewart and guitarist-bassist Ronnie Wood.
In 1973 he formed supergroup Beck, Bogert & Appice with former Vanilla Fudge members Carmine Appice and Tim Bogert. With 1975’s Blow by Blow, he went on to a solo career. That album was produced by Beatles collaborator George Martin and achieved platinum status. 1976’s Wired and his 2008’s Performing This Week… Live at Ronnie Scott’s also went platinum, with seven of his albums reaching gold status.
Beck was highly in demand as a collaborator, working with Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, and more. His most recent album was 2022’s 18, a collaborative project with actor-musician Johnny Depp. It features two original tracks and covers of songs by The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, The Velvet Underground, The Everly Brothers, The Miracles, Killing Joke and Janis Ian.
The feedback-driven, pro-environmental/anti-war “Shapes of Things” is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s permanent exhibit of the “Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.”