It doesn’t matter if you refer to Jeff Beck as a “guitarist’s guitarist” or a “guitar god,” he stands in a league of his own. Publicists have announced that Beck, one of the most revered guitarists in rock and roll history, passed away on Tuesday due to complications from bacterial meningitis. At 78 years old, he was an old man.
Beck was a versatile musician who could perform any style that grabbed his ear.
Beck believed that the guitar, at least as he played it, had the potential to be as adaptable as the human voice. “I basically attempted to become a vocalist,” he said NPR in an interview from 2010. “In my opinion, the spring-loaded bridge of the Stratocaster guitar makes for a world of sonic exploration.
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They call it a whammy bar, but I just use it as a vibrato pedal. Changing the pitch allows me to create an unlimited number of permutations. I can simultaneously play a chord on six strings while bringing down the pitch.”
Beck entered the world in 1944, in Wallington, England. At a young age, he took an interest in the guitar, and he first gained widespread recognition through his work with The Yardbirds, where he eventually succeeded Eric Clapton and joined Jimmy Page. Not long after, Beck broke away to form The Jeff Beck Group (along with a then little-known singer named Rod Stewart).
Beck’s name frequently comes up in discussions about the greatest guitarists of all time, with names like Clapton, Page, and Keith Richards. However, Beck had a history of being somewhat reclusive, and he never warmed up to the limelight that came with his musical success. In 2010, he shared his views on the music business as a whole with The New York Times.
He referred to it as “a devilish enterprise.” “Being pursued by the media like Amy Winehouse and others like her must be a living misery. When I attend events like movie premieres, I feel like I am on the outside of the celebrity world, and that’s as near as I like to get. I value my own space, and woe to anyone who invades it.”
Beck was successful and well-received despite his efforts to remain out of the limelight. He has been nominated for 17 Grammys and has won eight times. This year, he was nominated for Best Rock Performance. Both he and The Yardbirds, as well as him individually, are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.