TRIBUTE: Jeff Beck

TRIBUTE: Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck, the legendary rock guitarist, passed away on Tuesday. A representative of Beck’s family confirmed the news, stating that he had died peacefully after having suddenly contracted bacterial meningitis. He was 78 years of age.

I had the immense privilege of having seen him in concert in September 1972. On that occasion he topped the bill at the Great Western Express, an event held in Grangemouth in Scotland and one that is often regarded as the country’s first ever music festival. He performed there as part of Beck, Bogert & Appice, a so-called rock supergroup and power trio that had been formed when Jeff Beck joined considerable forces with bass guitarist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice who had previously served time with the American heavy rock bands Vanilla Fudge and Cactus.

By the time of his appearance in Grangemouth, Jeff Beck had already begun to establish a considerable reputation for himself as being one of the greatest guitarists of all time, first playing with The Yardbirds – taking the place of the recently departed Eric Clapton – and then The Jeff Beck Group, the first incarnation of which could count both Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood amongst their band members.

Following Beck, Bogert & Appice, Jeff Beck went onto forge an incredibly innovative and hugely divergent career in music, one in which his brilliant guitar technique and texture moved into the areas of psychedelia, pop, funk, jazz-rock fusion, electronic, and techno and saw him collaborate with artists as diverse as Stevie WonderNile RogersJon Bon JoviKate BushRoger Waters, and more recently the Hollywood actor, Johnny Depp who joined him on stage at several live dates in the UK last summer.

But my abiding memory of Jeff Beck is on that dark, dreich autumn night back in 1972 in the unlikely surroundings of a sports stadium in an industrial town located on the south shore of the River Forth estuary. He took to the stage, his white jacket shining like a beacon in the surrounding gloom. I can still see him removing that jacket during ‘Black Cat Moan’ whilst continuing to play his guitar without missing a break, something that, just like his playing, seemed completely out of this world. 

In 1985 he reunited with Rod Stewart to cover the Curtis Mayfield classic, ‘People Get Ready’. Listen to it here in memory of such an exceptional guitarist and musician.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Beck Facebook Page

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.