on this day


Guitarist Jeff Beck died suddenly at age 78 on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at a hospital near Riverhall after contracting bacterial meningitis. The news was announced Wednesday, January 10th on Beck’s verified Twitter account, and by his publicist, Melissa Dragich.
The shocking news comes just two months after the eight-time Grammy-winner and two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee wrapped his concert tour with friend Johnny Depp to promote their 2022 collaborative album, “18”.
“On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing,” Dragich’s statement read. “After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday [Jan. 10]. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”
Beck is survived by his wife of 18 years, Sandra. Upon the news of his death, fellow legends of the rock world, including Osbourne and the Jeff Beck Group’s Stewart and Wood, took to social media to express their shock and pay tribute.
Led Zeppelin founder and guitarist Jimmy Page called Beck a “six stringed Warrior” who had the ability to “channel music from the ethereal … His technique unique. His imaginations apparently limitless,” Page wrote on Twitter. “Jeff I will miss you along with your millions of fans.”
Dave Davies of The Kinks said he was “heartbroken” to hear the news of Beck’s passing. “I’m shocked and bewildered. Deepest sympathy to his wife friends close ones,” Davies wrote on Twitter. “He was a good friend and a great guitar player.”
“With the death of Jeff Beck we have lost a wonderful man and one of the greatest guitar players in the world,”
 Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger wrote on Twitter. “We will all miss him so much.”
“What awful news. Jeff Beck, one of the all time guitar masters has died,” 
Paul Stanley of Kiss tweeted. “From The Yardbirds and The Jeff Beck Group on, he blazed a trail impossible to follow. Play on now and forever.”
Beck was among the rock-guitarist pantheon from the late ’60s that included Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. The Grammy-winning musician was inducted twice into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: once with the Yardbirds in 1992 and again as a solo artist in 2009. He ranked fifth in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”
Geoffrey Arnold Beck was born June 24, 1944, in Wallington, England to Arnold and Ethel Beck at 206 Demesne Road, Wallington, England. As a ten-year-old, Beck sang in a church choir. He attended Sutton Manor School and Sutton East County Secondary Modern School.
He also became fascinated with the electric guitar at age 6 after hearing Les Paul’s “How High the Moon” on the radio, and constructed his own homemade guitar in emulation of Paul, first by gluing and bolting together cigar boxes for the body and an unsanded fence-post for the neck with model aircraft control-lines and frets simply painted on.
His other idols included Gene Vincent’s lead guitarist Cliff Gallup and Americans Steve Cropper, Buddy Guy , BB King and Otis Rush. In a striking coincidence, three of the greatest guitarists of the rock era, Clapton, Beck and Page (the latter two became friends in their early teens after being introduced by Beck’s sister Annetta) grew up within 15 miles of each other.
During and after his stint as a student at Wimbledon College of Art, Beck moonlighted as a guitarist in various groups like the Nightshift, the Rumbles, and the Tridents, becoming immersed in Britain’s blues/R&B scene thanks to the influence of his friend, Rolling Stones associate Ian Stewart.
While still attending Wimbledon, Beck was also playing in a succession of groups, including Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages during 1962 when they recorded “Dracula’s Daughter”/”Come Back Baby” for Oriole Records.
Upon leaving school, he was briefly employed as a painter and decorator, a groundsman on a golf course and a car paint-sprayer. It was in 1965 that another famous friend, Jimmy Page, whom Beck had first met as a teenager, recommended Beck to replace Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds.after Clapton exited the group to join John Mayall’s purist unit the Bluesbreakers.
Although Beck was in the Yardbirds for less than two years and only played in full on one of the seminal English blues-rock band’s U.K. studio albums, 1966’s Yardbirds (also known by the title Roger the Engineer), he added a more commercial pop element to their sound and appeared on some of their biggest hits, including “Heart Full of Soul,” “Evil Hearted You,” “Shapes of Things,” and “Over Under Sideways Down.” His playing also helped popularize the use of audio feedback and distortion in rock. For a brief time, Beck and Page did play in the Yardbirds together. The Beck-Page iteration of the band lasted a matter of months and produced only two tracks featuring that fearsome twin-lead lineup: the single “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” and “Stroll On,” a rewrite of “The Train Kept A-Rollin’” penned for Michelangelo Antonioni’s indictment of Swinging London, “Blow-Up.” The Yardbirds appeared on screen in Antonioni’s feature, with Beck destroying his guitar onstage a la the Who’s Pete Townshend, before Beck was fired for unprofessional and unreliable behavior.
Beck rebounded in 1967 by forming another supergroup of sorts. Beck had recorded the British hit “Hi Ho Silver Lining” (which he almost immediately disavowed) and formed a new group with former Steampacket vocalist Stewart, guitarist-turned-bassist Ron Wood and drummer Micky Waller. Session pianist Nicky Hopkins also took a prominent role in the studio. They became the heavier and harder Jeff Beck Group, whose classic lineup featured a rising young singer named Rod Stewart, future Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood on bass, pianist Nicky Hopkins, and drummer Aynsley Dunbar (later replaced by Micky Waller). Stewart, Wood, and Waller were also featured on Beck’s first solo album, “Truth,” in 1968.
Its successor “Beck-Ola” (1969), billed to the Jeff Beck Group (with Tony Newman replacing Waller) and featuring two crunching Elvis Presley covers and the searing instrumental “Rice Pudding,” was even more potent. The group, minus Stewart, also backed Brit folkie Donovan on his rocking single “Barabajagal.” But the act proved as volatile a mix as the Yardbirds, and Stewart and Wood left to join the Faces (a reconfigured edition of the mod group the Small Faces) in mid-’69. Both projects have been cited as key influences on the heavy metal acts that would soon arise in the early ‘70s.
In 1969, Beck became a vegetarian, and also turned down an opportunity to replace the Stones’ late first guitarist, Brian Jones. The Jeff Beck Group continued on with various rotating members, including the Vanilla Fudge rhythm section of Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, but a fractured skull sustained in a December 1969 car accident put the guitarist’s proposed trio with Bogert and Appice on the back burner. At the turn of the decade, the guitarist founded a new quintet edition of the Jeff Beck Group that leaned heavily on the jazzy keyboard work of Max Middleton. Though the band’s albums “Rough and Ready” (1971) and its self-titled 1972 follow-up performed respectably, they were largely considered inferior to the records produced by the Stewart-Wood lineup.After the Jeff Beck Group officially called it quits in 1972, Beck formed Beck, Bogert & Appice with those two players, releasing one studio album with the power-trio in 1973. Peaking at #12 in the US, it featured a hammering rendition of “Superstition,” which had been custom-written for Beck by its author, Stevie Wonder.
A 1973 appearance at David Bowie’s famous “Ziggy Stardust” farewell concert was excluded from the 1983 film and album of the show, but included (nearly 50 years after the show took place) in Brett Morgen’s 2022 Bowie documentary, “Moonage Daydream.” According to legend, Beck would not sign off on the footage because he didn’t like the pants he wore onstage, although that story may be apocryphal; however, the performance, which saw him joining Bowie for versions of “Jean Genie” and a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Around and Around,” is not among his best.
In 1975, Beck teamed with Beatles producer George Martin to record his second solo LP, “Blow by Blow,” which marked a shift in a jazz-fusion direction for the ever-evolving guitar genius. Martin also produced the instrumental sequel “Wired” (1976), which featured appearances by keyboardist Hammer and fusion drummer Narada Michael Walden; it reached #16, and prefaced a popular Beck-Hammer tour. The guitarist went on to tour Japan in 1978 with a unit that included former Return to Forever bassist Stanley Clarke. Hammer returned for “There & Back” (1980), another instrumental set that hit #21.
During the early ’80s, Beck restricted himself to benefit concert appearances. He returned to the studio in 1985 for “Flash,” a largely instrumental affair produced in part by Nile Rodgers of Chic; the collection contained Beck’s only solo chart single, a #48 version of the Impressions’ “People Get Ready” that reunited him with Rod Stewart. The set also produced his first Grammy winner, the rock instrumental “Escape.”
Afflicted with tinnitus, Beck was sidelined for several years. He recorded the hard-rocking “Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop” (1989) with keyboardist Tony Hymas and ex-Frank Zappa drummer Terry Bozzio. The mainly instrumental collection garnered a second Grammy in the rock instrumental category.
His discography slowed further in the ’90s. After the 1992 soundtrack “Frankie’s House,” Beck issued only “Crazy Legs” (#171, 1993), comprising new renderings of Gene Vincent’s repertoire with lead vocals by Mike Sanchez and hot Beck lead work, and “Who Else!” (#99, 1999), a collaboration with Michael Jackson’s former guitarist Jennifer Batten. Neither “You Had It Coming” (#110, 2001) nor the non-charting “Jeff” (2003) was a major commercial hit, but both titles contained tracks honored by the Recording Academy.
Beck’s well-received “Emotion & Commotion” (2010), his first album in seven years, became his highest-charting release in 35 years, peaking at #11 domestically. At the Grammys the following year, the original “Hammerhead” and a rendition of Puccini’s aria “Nessun Dorma” received awards as best rock instrumental performance and best pop instrumental performance, respectively; the guitarist also took home a best pop collaboration trophy for his work on Hancock’s “Imagine,” with India.Arie.
Beck continued to tour and record sporadically but regularly, performing with an unusual range of artists, as the decade continued. In 2011, he received honorary degrees from two British universities, with the University of the Arts London recognizing his “outstanding contribution to the field of Music.” In 2013 he performed an album with Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson and joined him for an 18-date tour; the following year he embarked on a solo tour of Japan and accompanied R&B singer Joss Stone at the Royal Albert Hall. In 2016, he released what would be his final solo album, “Loud Hailer,” featuring singer Rosie Bones.
His musical collaboration with Depp began in 2020 with a cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation,” which was released in April, just after the Coronavirus pandemic took hold. “We weren’t expecting to release it so soon but given all the hard days and true ‘isolation’ that people are going through in these challenging times, we decided now might be the right time to let you all hear it,” Beck wrote in a statement at the time.
His collaboration with Depp continued, even as the actor was the focus of a high-profile defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard. The two released the “18” album in July of 2022 and embarked on a North American tour shortly after the trial concluded in Depp’s favor. Variety‘s review of an October show in New Jersey noted, “Beck seemed touched when a woman yelled, ‘I’ve loved you since the Yardbirds!’”
Among Beck’s many other collaborators during his career were Donovan, Stevie Wonder, Miss Mercy and the Frank Zappa-masterminded girl group the GTOs, Stanley Clarke, Tina Turner, Nile Rodgers, Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy, Diana Ross, Kate Bush, Roger Waters, Dion, Seal, the Pretenders, Joss Stone, Brian May, Jon Bon Jovi, Paul Rodgers, Morrissey, and his former bandmate Rod Stewart.
In more recent years, Beck recruited Carmen Vandenberg and Rosie Bones of the young British hard rock duo Bones U.K. for his last official solo album, 2016’s “Loud Hailer,” and Depp for the 2022 project “18.”
Also in 2022, he played on two tracks on Ozzy Osbourne’s “Patient Number 9” album, released in late June of 2022, the title track “Patient Number 9” and “A Thousand Shades.”
In a 2022 interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Beck superfan Osbourne expressed delight over getting to work with his hero, admitting, “I didn’t think [Beck] would want anything to do with me.”
While a famously mercurial personality, Beck was indisputably one of the greatest guitarists of the rock era, and his playing remained innovative, imaginative and full of surprises until the very end.

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