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Jeff Beck

While he was as innovative as Jimmy Page, as tasteful as Eric Clapton, and nearly as visionary as Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck never achieved the same commercial success as any of those contemporaries, primarily because of the haphazard way he approached his career. After Rod Stewart left the Jeff Beck Group in 1971, Beck never worked with a charismatic lead singer who could have helped sell his music to a wide audience. Furthermore, he was simply too idiosyncratic, moving from heavy metal to jazz fusion within a blink of an eye. As his career progressed, he became more fascinated by automobiles than guitars, releasing only one album during the course of the '90s. All the while, Beck retained the respect of fellow guitarists, who found his reclusiveness all the more alluring.

Beck began his musical career following a short stint at London's Wimbledon Art College. He earned a reputation by supporting Lord Sutch, which helped him land the job as the Yardbirds' lead guitarist following the departure of Eric Clapton. Beck stayed with the Yardbirds for nearly two years, leaving in late 1966 with the pretense that he was retiring from music. He returned several months later with "Love Is Blue," a single he played poorly because he detested the song. Later in 1967, he formed the Jeff Beck Group with vocalist Rod Stewart, bassist Ron Wood, and drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who was quickly replaced by Mickey Waller; keyboardist Nicky Hopkins joined in early 1968. With their crushingly loud reworkings of blues songs and vocal and guitar interplay, the Jeff Beck Group established the template for heavy metal. Neither of the band's records, Truth (1968) or Beck-Ola (a 1969 album that was recorded with new drummer Tony Newman), was particularly successful, and the bandmembers tended to fight regularly, especially on their frequent tours of the U.S. In 1970, Stewart and Wood left to join the Faces, and Beck broke up the group.

Beck had intended to form a power trio with Vanilla Fudge members Carmine Appice (drums) and Tim Bogert (bass), but those plans were derailed when he suffered a serious car crash in 1970. By the time he recuperated in 1971, Bogart and Appice were playing in Cactus, so the guitarist formed a new version of the Jeff Beck Group. Featuring keyboardist Max Middleton, drummer Cozy Powell, bassist Clive Chaman, and vocalist Bobby Tench, the new band recorded Rough and Ready (1971) and Jeff Beck Group (1972). Neither album attracted much attention. Cactus dissolved in late 1972, and Beck, Bogert, and Appice formed a power trio the following year. The group's lone studio album -- a live record released in Japan but never in the U.K. or U.S. -- was widely panned due to its plodding arrangements and weak vocals, and the group disbanded the following year.

For about 18 months, Beck remained quiet, re-emerging in 1975 with Blow by Blow. Produced by George Martin, Blow by Blow was an all-instrumental jazz fusion album that received strong reviews. Beck collaborated with Jan Hammer, a former keyboardist for Mahavishnu Orchestra, for 1976's Wired, and supported the album with a co-headlining tour with Hammer's band. The tour was documented on the 1977 album Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group: Live.

After the Hammer tour, Beck retired to his estate outside of London and remained quiet for three years. He returned in 1980 with There and Back, which featured contributions from Hammer. Following the tour for There and Back, Beck retired again, returning five years later with the slick, Nile Rodgers-produced Flash. A pop/rock album recorded with a variety of vocalists, Flash featured Beck's only hit single, the Stewart-sung "People Get Ready," and also boasted "Escape," which won the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental. During 1987, he played lead guitar on Mick Jagger's second solo album, Primitive Cool. There was another long wait between Flash and 1989's Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop with Terry Bozzio and Tony Hymas. Though the album sold only moderately well, Guitar Shop received uniformly strong reviews and won the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental. Beck supported the album with a tour, this time co-headlining with guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. Again, Beck entered semi-retirement upon the completion of the tour.

In 1992, Beck played lead guitar on Roger Waters' comeback album, Amused to Death. A year later, he released Crazy Legs, a tribute to Gene Vincent and his lead guitarist, Cliff Gallup, which was recorded with Big Town Playboys. Beck remained quiet after the album's release prior to resurfacing in 1999 with Who Else! You Had It Coming followed in 2001 and his 14th release, Jeff, was issued on Epic two years later. An excellent live set, Performing This Week: Live at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, was released in 2008 by Eagle Records. Emotion & Commotion, Beck's first new studio album in seven years, appeared in the spring of 2010. It was greeted by considerable acclaim, including winning two Grammy Awards in 2011 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Appropriately, Beck released a live album called Live and Exclusive from the Grammy Museum in the fall of 2010, followed by Rock & Roll Party (Honoring Les Paul), a salute to Beck's hero featuring vocals by Imelda May.

Over the next few years, Beck gigged regularly, highlighted by a 2013 joint tour with Brian Wilson; the duo planned to record together but those plans fell apart. In April 2015, Beck released Live+, a record culled from concerts given in August 2014 augmented by two new studio cuts. The following summer brought the all-new Loud Hailer, an album recorded with vocalist Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Live +

1. Loaded (Live)

2. Morning Dew (Live)

3. You Know You Know (Live)

5. A Change Is Gonna Come (Live)

6. A Day In The Life (Live)

7. Superstition (Live)

8. Hammerhead (Live)

9. Little Wing (Live)

10. Big Block (Live)

11. Where Were You (Live)

13. Rollin' And Tumblin' (Live)

14. Going Down (Live)


Track List: Performing This Week ... Live At Ronnie Scott's (2008)

1. Beck's Bolero (Live)

2. Eternity's Breath (Live)

3. Stratus (Live)

4. Cause We've Ended As Lovers (Live)

5. Behind The Veil (Live)

6. You Never Know (Live)

7. Nadia (Live)

8. Blast From The East (Live)

9. Led Boots (Live)

10. Angel (Footsteps) (Live)

11. Scatterbrain (Live)

12. Brush With The Blues (Live)

13. Space Boogie (Live)

14. Big Block (Live)

15. A Day In The Life (Live)

16. Where Were You (Live)


Track List: Jeff

1. So What

2. Plan B

3. Pork-U-Pine

4. Seasons

5. Trouble Man

6. Grease Monkey

7. Hot Rod Honeymoon

8. Line Dancing with Monkeys

9. JB's Blues

11. My Thing

12. Bulgaria

13. Why Lord Oh Why?


Track List: You Had It Coming

1. Earthquake

2. Roy's Toy

3. Dirty Mind

4. Rollin' And Tumblin'

5. Nadia

6. Loose Cannon

7. Rosebud

8. Left Hook

9. Blackbird

10. Suspension


Track List: Who Else!

1. What Mama Said

2. Psycho Sam

3. Brush With The Blues

4. Blast From The East

5. Space For The Papa

6. Angel (Footsteps)

7. Thx138

8. Hip-Notica

9. Even Odds

10. Declan

11. Another Place


Track List: Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop With Terry Bozzio And Tony Hymas

2. Savoy

3. Behind The Veil

4. Big Block

5. Where Were You

8. Two Rivers


Track List: There And Back

1. Star Cycle

2. Too Much To Lose

3. You Never Know

4. The Pump

5. El Becko

6. The Golden Road

7. Space Boogie

8. The Final Peace


Track List: Wired

1. Led Boots

2. Come Dancing

3. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

4. Head For Backstage Pass

5. Blue Wind

6. Sophie

7. Play With Me

8. Love Is Green


Track List: Blow By Blow

1. You Know What I Mean

2. She's A Woman

3. Constipated Duck

4. Air Blower

5. Scatterbrain

6. Cause We Ended As Lovers

7. Thelonius

8. Freeway Jam

9. Diamond Dust


Track List: Truth


Track List: Emotion & Commotion

1. Corpus Christi Carol

2. Hammerhead

3. Never Alone

4. Over The Rainbow

5. I Put A Spell On You

6. Serene

7. Lilac Wine

8. Nessun Dorma

9. There's No Other Me

10. Elegy For Dunkirk


Track List: I Put A Spell On You (Radio Single)


Track List: Loud Hailer

1. The Revolution Will Be Televised

2. Live In The Dark

3. Pull It

4. Thugs Club

5. Scared For The Children

6. Right Now

7. Shame

8. Edna

9. The Ballad Of The Jersey Wives

10. O.I.L. (Can't Get Enough Of That Sticky)

11. Shrine


Track List: Never Alone (Radio Single)

1. Never Alone


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Nic3 and easy if can go there technical genius perfection
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Want to Blow your mind and break your fingers work on, Brush With the Blues.
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Don't read this you will kiss the love of your life on the nearest Friday if you ignore this you will have bad luck put this on 15 songs the next 143 minutes press the space bar and your crushes name will appear
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Dam dam dam
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The best technical guitar player there is I ran my truck into a pole listening to this driving home from a bar
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Amazingly intelligent comments, but in my humble opinion Beck has never surpassed the greatness of this album. Yes he had devolved. Love to all guitar players out there!!!!!!�
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I had Blow By Blow album in mind when I started station.
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I seeded my first Pandora station (david... radio) with Jeff Beck. Interesting fact or TMI?
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It was Tommy Bolin not Bowen...
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Stratus from Cobham, and Eternities Breath from Mahavishnu Orchestra.
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Seen Jeff since 77, one of the best groups was Vinnie, Tal, & Jason at Ronnie Scott's in London . Vinnie tore it up with Cobhams/Bowe n s song, can't remember name of song. They played a Mahavishna song. Beck is still strong at 70. Latest album is unique. Never know what to expect from him
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I saw him in 09 with Vinnie,Tal and Jason at the Fox in Oakland. I had seen him way back in the 70's when he opened for the John McLaughlin. He was great then. He was OUTSTANDING in 09. By far my favorite rock guitarist of all time..
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michael--and r e w s
maplek3: I'm also a big Zep fan, comparing Page to Beck though is pointless. Page has his thing, but nuance is not it... Beck has immeasurable nuance. Clapton is a world-class curator of the blues, but to call him 'innovative' is simply wrong. (Though the Cream reunion album shows he still has heavy chops). Watch a video of 'Angel (Footsteps)' and be blown away by his perfect slide intonation playing past the frets, over the pickups... amazing.
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I have to agree with you Michael! I always liked Led Zepplin,but Page is sloppy. Clapton is good, but nothing compared to Jeff...
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michael--and r e w s
That first paragraph is insulting... Jeff Beck is one of THE most innovative guitarists, EVER. Clapton is a cover musician, Page is sloppy and inconsistent , Hendrix... well, he was Hendrix. Beck raises the hair on my neck with his slide playing, so emotive. Two Rivers' from Guitar Shop brings tears to my eyes. Someone mentioned 'Why Lord Oh Why'... another gorgeous song. Also 'Angel (Footsteps)' . He was one of the first of the guitar gods to meld heavy guitar with industrial samples.
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Jeff is a machine, it only takes seconds for him to get better.
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Poor duck, hope he gets better.
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Jeff just keeps getting better every year..
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There and Back Griffith Park show blew minds. Superhuman skills.
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i want a telecaster, damn jeff, you're the best
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Makes me want to burn my SG.... Dammit just Dammit
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Jeff deserves soo
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I don't disagree that he is in the guitar pantheon. By far my favorite.

But that is because the man can write a song! He does more with 3:30 than most shredders can do with 10 minutes!

Why Lord tells a complex story beginning to end with hair on neck excitement and it's essentially "just" guitar.

Lots of guitar players have skills but don't know how to get a message across.

Long live the King.
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Going to see him in Saratoga calif in August 2016 can't wait this guy is the real deal
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Almost 40 years! Dude!
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He's an awesome guitarist !!!!
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One of my all time favorite artists. This man is light years ahead of all guitarists in Rock.
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Sing it Joss!
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Nearly as innovative as Hendrix? In many ways, more innovative than Hendrix. IMHO. but at least as innovative.
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This review is a good history lesson.
It does not mention the talent, creativity and hard work that comes with being one of the best R&B musicians of all time. And who doesn't admire him for being true to his craft and not having to produce music according to a contract. I mean he plays guitar for work! With everyone who has ever been anybody for the last umpteen years. Who wouldn't like to be able to do what you want when you want?
No one leaves a Jeff Beck concert disappointed .
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stop by:
➡️ david... radio ⬅️
50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s~
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Jeff Beck never achieved the same commercial success as any of those contemporari e s , primarily because of the haphazard way he approached his career.

Haphazard? How 'bout artistically focused instead of commercially focused? Clearly, a concept beyond the reach of the likes of Stephen Thomas Erlewine.
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sohlesoncree k
Joss Stone ?
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Even w/all the attention-st i l l one of the most under-rated artist/guita r i s t around!!
Always innovative/c r e a t i v e ! !
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I still have this on original 1975 import vinyl!
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The man doesn't even use a pick and he is a master with the whammy bar!!!
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was? You act like he's dead. He's a living legend.
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Can't imagine the egos in the Yardbirds what a collection of guitar players!!!
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One of the greatest ever keep Rock N Mr. Jeff Beck
Report as inappropriate of the best ever.
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He is a great one, I've been very fortunate to have seen him many times. So elevated after his shows!!
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How Tal Wilkenfeld must have felt landing a gig as Beck's bassist! She's really good too, watch Live at Ronnie Scott's performance!
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I was huge fan of Jeff Beck, especially Shape of Things on Truth. First time I saw him was back 1968 in Lowell MA. Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood were still with him. We were about ten feet from the stage, which was about three feet high. It was an incredible show. I have seen him in almost every band he put together except the Yardbirds. In fact a few of my friends were able to get for that show same place a few years earlier during a snow storm. About a half dozen people made it there.
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Roys Toys + Loose Cannon are pure genius can't believe I never heard those gems until 2012 on Pandora. Gave me a whole new interest and respect for JB beyond the Blow by Blow Beck ,Wired, Beck. This man is constantly evolving.
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Satriani and Vai are a distant 2nd and 3rd, in comparison to this guy..... As for everyone else.... well.... keep practicing, maybe someday!!
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Comment? How about Coolest person ever born.
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Beck himself credits John McLaughlin as the greatest guitarist of all time. It's in the Interviews secton of the Playing This Week DVD. He is very reverential.
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