Jeff Beck, 1944 - 2023
12 Jan 2023
We are shocked to learn of the sudden passing of legendary rock guitarist and Genesis author, Jeff Beck. He was 78 years old.
Praised by fans and critics alike, Jeff Beck received the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance six times and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a member of the Yardbirds and as a solo artist.
'Jeff was a tremendous talent and hugely influential to me and millions of guitar players. The expression and emotion he wrenched from the guitar with his signature tone from way back in the Yardbirds to his recent work with Ozzy and everything in between was so beautiful and awe-inspiring.' - Tom Morello
Geoffrey Arnold Beck was born 24th June 1944, in Wallington, London. Beck said that he first heard an electric guitar when he was six years old, and after asking his mother what it was, he knew it was for him. As a teenager, he learned to play on a borrowed guitar and made several attempts to build an instrument of his own out of cigar boxes, an unsanded fence post, and model aircraft control lines.
After leaving school, he attended Wimbledon College of Art, where he played in a succession of groups and was introduced to Jimmy Page by his sister when they were teenagers.
'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. Jeff Beck Rest in Peace.' - Jimmy Page
In March 1965, Beck was recruited by the Yardbirds to succeed Eric Clapton on the recommendation of Jimmy Page. The Yardbirds recorded most of their Top 40 songs during Beck's short but significant 20-month tenure, with his lead guitarwork a key to their success.
In 1967, he recorded several solo singles for pop producer Mickie Most, which included his UK hit, 'Hi Ho Silver Lining'. He then formed The Jeff Beck Group, with Rod Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood on bass, Nick Hopkins on piano, and Aynsley Dunbar (replaced by Micky Waller) on drums. They produced two albums together, Truth and Beck-Ola.
'Jeff Beck was on another planet. He was one of the few guitarists that when playing live would actually listen to me sing and respond.
Jeff, you were the greatest, my man. Thank you for everything.' - Sir Rod Stewart
After years of collaborating with huge artists across the globe, Beck went on to create his most commercially successful solo album, Blow by Blow, in March 1975, which evolved from instrumental sessions with Max Middleton, bassist Phil Chen, drummer Richard Bailey, and George Martin as producer and arranger.
Blow by Blow showcased Beck's technical prowess in jazz-rock, with him returning to AIR Studios until he was satisfied. A couple of months after the sessions, producer George Martin received a telephone call from Beck, who wanted to record a solo section again. Famously, Martin replied: 'I'm sorry, Jeff, but the record is in the shops!'
'Now Jeff has gone, I feel like one of my band of brothers has left this world, and I'm going to dearly miss him. I'm sending much sympathy to Sandra, his family, and all who loved him. I want to thank him for all our early days together in Jeff Beck Group, conquering America. Musically, we were breaking all the rules, it was fantastic, groundbreaking rock 'n' roll! Listen to the incredible track 'Plynth' in his honour. Jeff, I will always love you. God bless.' - Ronnie Wood
In 2016, Genesis was honoured to publish Beck's limited edition memoir, BECK01, which covered his life in music as well as his passion for hot rods, which he built by hand. When Beck joined Genesis subscribers to officially launch the book at Mel's Diner in Los Angeles, a fleet of hot rods was parked up front in his honour.
Most recently, Beck had collaborated with Johnny Depp, beginning with a cover of John Lennon's 'Isolation' on 16th April 2020. They had announced that they had been recording music together for some time, but were prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic to release it sooner. The duo released their album 18 on 15th July 2022, featuring two Depp-penned originals and a selection of covers.
At Genesis, we send our deepest sympathies to Jeff's wife, Sandra, and all of his friends and family.