Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck

Infobox musical artist
Name = Jeff Beck

Img_capt = Jeff Beck performing at the Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007
Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Birth_name =
Alias =
Born = birth date and age|1944|6|24|df=y
Wallington, England
Died =
Instrument = Guitar
Genre = Blues rock, jazz fusion, instrumental rock, hard rock, electronica
Occupation = Musician, Songwriter
Years_active = 1962–present
Label = EMI, Epic
Associated_acts = The Yardbirds, The Jeff Beck Group, The Honeydrippers, Beck, Bogert & Appice, Big Town Playboys, Upp
URL = []
Notable_instruments = Fender Jeff Beck Signature Model Stratocaster

Geoffrey Arnold "Jeff" Beck (born June 24, 1944 to Arnold and Ethel Beck in Wallington, England) is an English rock guitarist. He was one of the three noted guitarists — the others being Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page — to have recorded with the band The Yardbirds. He was ranked the 14th on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".cite news | title = The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time| url = | date = 2003-08-27 | work = Rolling Stone Magazine]

Much of Beck's recorded output has been instrumental, and his releases have spanned genres ranging from blues-rock, heavy metal, jazz fusion and (currently) a blend of guitar-rock and electronica. Beck has earned wide critical praise [ [ Top ten guitar players] ] and four Grammy awards for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, and had two hit albums in the mid-1970s as a solo act. However, Beck has not been able to establish and maintain a broad following or the sustained commercial success of many of his collaborators and bandmates.

Beck has been nominated for 2009 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame [ [,0,3257546.story Run-D.M.C., Metallica nominated for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Associated Press September 22, 2008] ]


Early life

As a ten year old Beck sang in a church choir. As a teenager he learned to play a borrowed guitar and then made several attempts to build his own instrument. His first attempt was by gluing and bolting together (forgetting the washers so that the bolt head sank into the wood) a selection of cigar boxes for the body and an unsanded fence-upright for a neck. The strings were aircraft control line wires, both single and double stranded were used depending on the effect he wanted to achieve. The frets, however, were a different matter. In an unknowing portent for the future use of fretless guitar, the frets were simply painted on. Another attempt at a home-build was when he studiously cut a body from a very thick piece of wood. When fabricating the neck he attempted to use memorized measurements. Unfortunately the measurements he had remembered were those of a bass guitar. He described the result as "The scale was so bad that it was only playable with a capo at the fifth fret...", he went on to say, "I was interested in the electric guitar even before I knew the difference between electric and acoustic. The electric guitar seemed to be a totally fascinating plank of wood with knobs and switches on it. I just had to have one." cite book | last = Foster | first = Mo | authorlink = Mo Foster | coauthors = | title = 17 Watts? The Birth of British Rock Guitar | publisher = Sanctuary Publishing | date = 1997 |edition= 2nd Edition | location = | pages = pp119-120 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 186074267X ]

Beck is cited as saying that the first electric guitar player he singled out as impressing him was Les Paul.cite book | last = Foster | first = Mo | authorlink = Mo Foster | coauthors = | title = 17 Watts? The Birth of British Rock Guitar | publisher = Sanctuary Publishing | date = 1997 |edition= 2nd Edition | location = | pages = p38 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 186074267X ] Similarly Cliff Gallup, lead guitarist with Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps was also an early musical influence, followed by Chuck Berry and Steve Cropper [Interview with Vh1 History of Rock and Roll] Upon leaving school he attended Wimbledon Art College, then he briefly worked as a painter and decorator, a groundsman on a golf course and spray painting cars. Beck's sister would also play an instrumental role in introducing him to another teen hopeful named Jimmy Page.

With The Yardbirds

Like many rock musicians in the early 1960s, he began his career working as a session guitarist. In 1965, Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds for John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, and Beck was recruited to replace him on the recommendation of Jimmy Page, who had been their initial choice. It was during his tenure with the Yardbirds that they recorded most of their hits.

During Jeff Beck's time with the Yardbirds he pioneered the use of many new guitar techniques, such as the intentional use of feedback, heavy distortion and complex soloing. Rock critic Richie Unterberger wrote "While Beck's stint with the band lasted only about 18 months, in this period he did more to influence the sound of '60s rock guitar than anyone except Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend."

Rock critic Piero Scaruffi has described Beck as "possibly the most influential guitarist in the history of rock music. One could say that rock music played with an electric guitar was invented by Jeff Beck. It was through him that the distortions, feedback, and many other techniques, that the rest of rock music did not rediscover until much later, became popular." Certainly the sheer chronological facts - Beck's groundbreaking lead guitar work on the Yardbird's Roger the Engineer came out 5 months before Clapton's work with Cream, and almost a year before Hendrix's debut - back up Scaruffi's assertion.

Stories about Beck's volatile temper began to circulate early. His perfectionism, coupled with the faulty equipment often in use during the 1960s, led to many stories about his willingness to take out frustrations on his equipment, though not in the form of smashing a guitar. The 1966 movie "Blow-up" contains a scene where the Yardbirds perform "Stroll On", and Beck becomes so enraged by equipment problems that he smashes his guitar. However, this scene was staged for the movie, as it was a re-creation of an actual event that director Michelangelo Antonioni witnessed at a concert of The Who. [ [,M1 Anyway Anyhow Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of The Who] ] . This was also spoofed in the movie "This is Spinal Tap".

His time with The Yardbirds was short, allowing Beck only one full album, "Yardbirds" a/k/a/Roger the Engineer" (1966); Beck left after 18 months, partly for health reasons. For a few months he shared the dual-lead guitar role with Jimmy Page, who had joined the Yardbirds as a bass player, but quickly moved to co-lead guitar, with Chris Dreja moving on bass .

While on the surface Beck seems to have departed the group because of his health, Page, who had been invited into the band for a second time in 1966 by Beck himself, tells a different story:

The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Beck wise-cracked at the ceremony stating:

Jeff Beck Group

The following year, after recording the one-off song "Beck's Bolero" (with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins, and Keith Moon) and having two solo vocals hit singles in the UK ("Hi Ho Silver Lining" and "Tallyman"), Beck formed a new band called The Jeff Beck Group, which featured him on lead guitar, Rod Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Micky Waller on drums.

The group produced two albums, "Truth" (August, 1968) and "Beck-Ola" (June, 1969). Both albums are highly acclaimed."Truth", released five months before the first Led Zeppelin album, features a cover of "You Shook Me", a song first recorded by Willie Dixon which was also covered on the Led Zeppelin debut. It sold well (reaching #15 on the "Billboard" charts) and received great critical praise,Fact|date=August 2007 "Beck-Ola" while well-received, was less successful both commercially and critically. Resentment, coupled with touring-related incidents, led the group to dissolve.

After the breakup, Beck decided to continue working with Stewart, and team up with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, the rhythm section of the Vanilla Fudge. This project was sidelined when Beck suffered head injuries in a car crash, and left the music scene for over a year. Rod Stewart left to team up with Ronnie Wood and the Small Faces; and Bogert and Appice formed Cactus instead.

When Beck regained his health, he reformed a band with entirely new members. The new ensemble — Bob Tench on vocals and guitar, Max Middleton on piano and keyboards, Clive Chaman on bass and Cozy Powell on drums — although still known as the "Jeff Beck Group" featured a substantially different sound from the first lineup.

For the album "Rough and Ready" (1971), Beck wrote or co-wrote six of the album's seven tracks (the exception written by pianist Middleton). The album included elements of Soul, Rhythm and Blues and Jazz, foreshadowing the direction Beck's music would take later in the decade.

The follow-up, Jeff Beck Group, (1972) was recorded in Memphis, at the studio used by Booker T. & the M.G.'s; their guitarist, Steve Cropper, produced the album. The album, unsurprisingly, displayed a strong Soul influence. Five of the nine tracks were covers of American artists; one ("I Got To Have A Song") was the first of Beck's four covers of compositions written by Stevie Wonder.

Shortly after this release, Cactus broke up, leaving Bogert and Appice available. Beck dissolved the band in order to achieve his ambition to work with them, forming Beck, Bogert & Appice.

Beck, Bogert & Appice

The long-awaited lineup worked together for less than two years and released only one US album "Beck, Bogert & Appice". While critics acknowledged the band's instrumental prowess, the album was not well received, except for its cover of Wonder's "Superstition". Beck left the group during recording sessions for the second album. (A double-album ("Beck, Bogert & Appice Live in Japan)" was eventually released in Japan.)

olo albums

In October 1974, Beck began recording instrumentals at AIR studios backed by pianist Max Middleton (from the second Jeff Beck Group), bassist Phil Chenn, and drummer Richard Bailey, with George Martin producing and providing string arrangements.

The resulting album, "Blow by Blow" (1975), displayed Beck's technical prowess in a jazz-rock format. The album reached #4 on the charts. It is Beck's most commercially successful release.

George Martin, produced "Blow by Blow" at AIR Studios. Beck was fastidious about over-dubs but never seemed to be happy with his solos.A few days after a recording, when he'd had time to digest his own performance, he would telephone Martin and say "I think I could do a better one on this track", and they would return to AIR to try again. Beck would play over and over until he was satisfied that he had performed his best. A couple of months went by and Martin received another phone call from Beck: "I want to do this solo again." Bemused, Martin replied: "I'm sorry, Jeff, but the record is in the shops!"cite book | last = Foster | first = Mo | authorlink = Mo Foster | coauthors = | title = 17 Watts? The Birth of British Rock Guitar | publisher = Sanctuary Publishing | date = 1997 |edition= 2nd Edition | location = | pages = p315 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 186074267X ]

"Wired", which followed a year later, paired Beck with drummer-composer Narada Michael Walden and keyboardist Jan Hammer. It is a more straightforward work of jazz-rock fusion (sounding similar to the work of his two collaborators). A live album with Hammer followed.

1980's "There and Back", featured three compositions from Hammer and five with keyboardist Tony Hymas.

Later career

In 1981 he made a series of historic, joint live appearances with his Yardbirds predecessor Eric Clapton at the Amnesty International "The Secret Policeman's Other Ball" benefit shows. He appeared with Clapton on "Crossroads", "Further On Up The Road", and his own arrangement of Stevie Wonder's "Cause We've Ended As Lovers". Beck also featured prominently in the all-star band finale performance of "I Shall Be Released" with Clapton, Sting, Phil Collins, Donovan and Bob Geldof. Beck's contributions were seen and heard in the resulting album and film, both of which achieved worldwide success in 1982. Another benefit show called the ARMS Concert for Multiple Sclerosis featured a jam with Jeff, Eric and Jimmy Page performing "Tulsa Time", and "Layla". This is the only time all of the 1963-1968 Yardbirds lead guitarists appeared on stage together.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Jeff Beck recorded sporadically (due largely to a long battle with noise-induced tinnitus): "There and Back" (1980, featuring Simon Phillips, Tony Hymas, Jan Hammer and Mo Foster), "Flash" (1985, including performances with Rod Stewart and Jan Hammer), "Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop" (1989, with Terry Bozzio and Tony Hymas), "Crazy Legs" (1993), "Who Else!" (1999), and "You Had It Coming" (2001). He also accompanied Paul Rodgers of Bad Company on the album "" in 1993. Jeff Beck won his third Grammy Award, this one for 'Best Rock Instrumental Performance' for the track "Dirty Mind" from "You Had It Coming". The 2003 release of "Jeff" showed that the new electro-guitar style he used for the two earlier albums would continue to dominate. The song "Plan B" from this release earned him his fourth Grammy Award, again, for 'Best Rock Instrumental Performance'.

In the past few years, Jeff Beck has performed on new albums by Roger Waters, Les Paul and Cyndi Lauper. Beck also is featured on one track on Queen guitarist Brian May's album "Another World". He also appears on ZZ Top's album "XXX". Beck made a cameo appearance in the movie "Twins" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.

Jeff Beck continues to perform shows on a regular basis, including opening for B.B. King in the summer of 2003, backed by Terry Bozzio and Tony Hymas.

Beck's most recent tours in 2005 and 2006 have included Jason Rebello on keyboards, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums and Pino Palladino on bass (replaced by Randy Hope-Taylor due to Palladino's prior commitment to The Who). An "Official Bootleg USA'06 " from the tour has been released through Beck's site.

Jeff Beck also accompanied Kelly Clarkson as the guitarist for her cover of Patty Griffin's song, "Up To The Mountain", during the 2007 Idol Gives Back episode of "American Idol", receiving a standing ovation from the audience.

Beck was featured at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2004 and 2007.

Beck has announced a Japanese tour for early 2009 through his website,


While Beck was not the first rock guitarist to experiment with electronic distortion, he nonetheless helped to redefine the sound and role of the electric guitar in rock music. Beck's work with The Yardbirds and The Jeff Beck Group's 1968 album Truth were seminal influences on heavy metal music, which emerged in full force in the early 1970s. Jeff Beck is still highly influential with many modern guitarists, who cite him as a major influence on their playing.

Technique and equipment

Jeff Beck does not rely heavily on electronic effects. Beck stopped regular use of a pick (plectrum) in the 1980s. Contrary to popular belief, he does occasionally play with a pick (although seldom through the entire song). He produces a wide variety of sounds by using his fingers and the vibrato bar on his signature Fender Stratocaster, although he frequently uses a wah-wah pedal both live and in the studio. As Eric Clapton once said, "With Jeff, it’s all in his hands". [ [ Jeff ] ] Along with Fender Stratocasters, Beck occasionally plays Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul models as well. His amplifiers are primarily by Fender and Marshall Amplification. In his earlier days with the Yardbirds, Beck also used a Fender Esquire guitar through Vox AC30s. He has also played through a variety of fuzz pedals and echo-units along with this set-up and has used the Pro Co RAT distortion pedal.

During the ARMS charity concerts in 1983, Jeff used his battered Fender Esquire along with a 1954 Fender Stratocaster and a Jackson Soloist.

On the Crazy Legs album of 1993, he played a Gretsch Duo Jet, his signature Fender Stratocaster and various other guitars.

Recently, Fender created a Custom Shop Tribute series version of his beat-up Fender Esquire as well as his Artist Signature series Stratocaster. The Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB guitar pickup is named after Jeff Beck.

Other collaborations and near-misses

While Beck and Jimmy Page played together in The Yardbirds, the trio of Beck, Page and Eric Clapton never played together in the group all at the same time. The three guitarists did play on stage together at the ARMS charity concerts in 1983 in honour of Ronnie Lane

Beck also rehearsed with Guns N' Roses for their concert in Paris in 1992, however he did not play in the actual concert as he was ill.

Jeff Beck had several opportunities to join famous bands.

Following Mick Taylor's resignation, Beck was invited to an audition for the The Rolling Stones. After staying for a couple of days at a hotel in Amsterdam, where the Stones had rented a studio, Jeff and his manager decided to leave because they got tired of waiting around for a phone call from the Stones. Subsequently, the Stones hired Ronnie Wood to play guitar on their 1975 Tour.Fact|date=September 2008

Pink Floyd originally considered Beck to replace Syd Barrett after the latter became difficult to work with. However, as Nick Mason recalls in his autobiography, 'none of us had the nerve to ask him. Roger finally managed it twenty years later'. David Gilmour became Pink Floyd's guitarist instead. [cite web |url= |title= Record Collector Interview | author=K Whitlock |accessdate=2007-12-15 |publisher=Pink Floyd & Co fan website ]

Jeff Beck and Nigel Kennedy have recently been rehearsing together (2008-07-24). Kennedy is in awe of Beck and the pair are looking at doing possible gigs and recordings together. []


When not touring or recording, Beck rarely plays guitar. Instead, he spends most of his time working on his classic Jaguars or building hot rods.

Beck is a vegetarian.

Beck has appeared in several films; he appears in the movie "Blow Up" with The Yardbirds performing "Stroll On" and appears in the movie "Twins" with Nicolette Larson.


As the Jeff Beck Group:
* "Truth" – 1968 #15 US
* "Beck-Ola" – 1969 #15 US
* "Rough and Ready" – 1971 #46 US
* "Jeff Beck Group" - 1972 #19 US

As Beck, Bogert & Appice

* "Beck, Bogert & Appice" - 1973
* "Beck, Bogert & Appice Live in Japan" - 1974

* "Hi Ho Silver Lining" / "Beck's Bolero" - 1967 single
* "Tallyman (song)" / "Rock My Plimsoul" - 1967 single
* "Love Is Blue" / "I've Been Drinking" - 1967 single
* "Blow by Blow" – 1975 #4 US
* "Wired" – 1976 #16 US
* "Jeff Beck With the Jan Hammer Group Live" – 1977 #23 US
* "There and Back" – 1980 #21 US
* "Flash" – 1985 #42 US (Winner 1986 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance)
* "Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop" – 1989 #49 US (Winner 1990 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance)
* Jeff Beck & Jed Leiber - "Frankie's House" - 1992 (Soundtrack)
* "Who Else!" – 1999 #99 US
* "You Had It Coming" – 2001 #110 US
* "Jeff" – 2003
* "Live At BB King Blues Club" - 2006 (recorded 09/10/2003; originally sold only through Sony's online store in 2004)
* " Official Bootleg USA'06 " (originally sold through Beck's site)
* " Performing this week...Live at the Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club " (Scheduled to be released on October 6, 2008).

With Big Town Playboys:

* "Crazy Legs " - 1993


*"Beckology" - 1991
*"Best of Beck" - 1995

Appeared on

Pavarotti's "Ti Adoro" lead guitar solo on "Caruso"
* John McLaughlin's "The Promise", on the track "Django".
* Joe Cocker's Heart & Soul album on 4th track I (Who Have Nothing) playing lead guitar.
* Brian May's "The Guv'nor" from the album "Another World"
* Stevie Wonder's "Talking Book"
* Imogen Heap's "Speak for Yourself"
* Roger Waters' "Amused to Death"
* Mood Swings' song Skinthieves"
* Tina Turner's "Private Dancer"
* Jon Bon Jovi's solo album "Blaze of Glory"
* Paul Rodgers' song "Good Morning Little School Girl"
* Stanley Clarke's 1975 album "Journey to Love".
* Stanley Clarke's 1978 album "Modern Man".
* John's Childrens single "Just What You Want - Just What You'll Get" b/w "But She's Mine" (rel. Feb 1967) as uncredited session musician.
* Reunited with former Yardbirds bandmates in 1984 with the group Box of Frogs
* Donovan's "Goo Goo Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)"
* Malcolm McLaren's album "Waltz Darling", released in 1989, on the songs "House Of The Blue Danube" and "Call A Wave".
* Tony Hymas's "Oyaté", on the track "Crazy Horse" (feat. John Trudell) and "Tashunka Witko" 1990.
* Buddy Guy's "Damn Right, I've Got the Blues", on the tracks "Mustang Sally" and "Early In The Morning" 1991.
* Mick Jagger's "She's the Boss"
* ""
* Kate Bush's 1993 album "The Red Shoes"
* Appears in the movie "Twins" with Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger
* The soundtrack to the movie "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" featuring The Bee Gees and Peter Frampton (Beck was once quoted as saying that after he saw Peter Frampton use the guitar mouth tube (talk box), he gave it up).
* The 2003 Yardbirds' reunion album "Birdland" - on track "My Blind Life"
* Ursus Minor's "Zugzwang" released in 2005
* Cyndi Lauper's song "Above The Clouds" from her 2005 album "The Body Acoustic"
* played guitar solo in Pavarotti's rendition of "Caruso"
* The rare blues album "Guitar Boogie" with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page
* Rod Stewart's album "Camouflage" on three tracks, also appears in video for the song "Infatuation"
* Toots and the Maytals 2004 album "True Love" on the song "54-46."
* American Idol on 24 April 2007 for the Idol Gives Back special, with Kelly Clarkson, playing "Up to the Mountain", originally by Patty Griffin
*Murray Head's "Voices" (1981)
*Beck's group plays with Donovan on the song, "Goo Goo Barabajagal (Love is Hot)"
*Guitarist for Hans Zimmer's Days of Thunder Instrumental Score.
* Beck plays an instrumental version of Lennon/McCartney classic "A Day in the Life" on Sir George Martin's album "In My Life" (1998), which also appeared in Julie Taymor's Beatles-inspired movie, "Across the Universe".
*His song "Hot Rod Honeymoon" was on the soundtrack for the video game Gran Turismo 4
*Stone Free: A Tribute To Jimi Hendrix on "Manic Depression" with Seal.
* Two songs of the Italian singer Zucchero: the song "Papa Perche?" (from the 1995 album Spirito DiVino) and "Like the sun (from out of nowhere)" (from the 2004 album ZU & Co, also featuring Macy Gray).
*The Pretenders album Viva El Amor on the song "Legalise Me"
* Beck appears on John McLaughlin's "Promise".
* Stevie Wonder originally wrote "Superstition" for Beck. However, Wonder's manager insisted that he record it before Beck did.

ee also

*List of rock instrumentals

Further reading

* Christopher Hjort and Doug Hinman (2000): "Jeff's Book: A Chronology of Jeff Beck's Career, 1965-1980: From the Yardbirds to Jazz-Rock", Rock'n'Roll Research Press ( [] , [] )

External links

* [ Jeff Beck Official Site]
* [ An Unofficial Jeff Beck website]
* [ Jeff Beck at Epic Records]


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