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Guitar Legend Jeff Beck Passes Away

January 12, 2023 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Jeff Beck - Flash Image Credit: Epic Records

Jeff Beck, who is considered one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time, has passed away. Beck’s Instagram account issued a statement confirming that the rock star passed on Tuesday after “contracting bacterial meningitis.” He was 78 years old.

The statement reads:

“On behalf of his family, 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.”

Beck is known for his time in the Yardbirds, as well as his own Jeff Beck Group and grew to become one of the most innovative and influentual guitarists of all-time. He popularised the use of audio feedback and distortion and influenced nearly every genre in rock including heavy metal, psychedelic rock, blues rock, hard rock and others.

Born in London in 1944, Beck began his musical pursuits at 10 years old, singing in his church’s choir. He became enamored with the electric guitar at a very early age, telling his mother at the age of six when he heard Les Paul playing “How High The Moon” on the radio that “That’s for me.” He learned to play as a teenager and began playing in bands while attending Wimbledon College of Art, eventually forming his own band called Nightshift. He worked in various groups before he was asked to replace the departing Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds, who he was with for 20 months. He only appeared on one of their albums, 1966’s Roger the Engineer, but the LP is considered the band’s greatest studio album and became their highest-charting album in the US.

Following his stint in the Yardbirds, Beck formed The Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart, future Rolling Stones member Ronnie Wood, Nicky Hopkins, and future Journey member Aynsley Dunbar. Their first album Truth was heavily influential on heavy metal, with Jimmy Page finding inspiration there as part of Led Zeppelin.

Beck went solo in 1975 with the LP Blow by Blow, which mixed jazz fusion with rock and funk. The album went platinum and sent Beck into a wildly successful solo career that led to eight Grammy Awards, two Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions (with the Yardbirds and then as a solo artist), and the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Over the course of his career he produced 17 studio albums and 11 live albums. His final album was 18, a collaboration with Johnny Depp that was released in July of last year.

On behalf of 411, our condolences to the family, friends, and many fans of Mr. Beck. Rock music would not be the same without him.

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Jeff Beck, Jeremy Thomas