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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 was 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. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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

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

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Track List: Never Alone (Radio Single)

Comments

I just watched the Live at Ronnie Scott's performance. JEFF BECK IS a guitar technician ( masters guitar and technology ), like Neal Peart is a technician on drums.
He makes it look SO easy and natural!
Jeff beck could have EASILY been a zepper!becau s e he is at least as great as page .BECK seems to top page on "neatness" for the most part , perhaps beck was content with being in a variety of bands,sessio n appearances etc
Yes I said sloppy. Learned to play him when I was 10. But Beck on the other hand still stumps me sometimes.
Keep on keepin' it on I LUV IT!!! Rock--roll must never die.....
Meet Jeff back stage a couple of years ago...though t the wife was going to explode with excitement .
johnmtill
I absolutely love his track titled JB's Blues, from the Jeff album. I love JB!
Was so lucky to see Jeff Beck back when he was promoting Blow By Blow. He makes his guitar speaks volumes without saying a word. Just keeps getting better.
jacqyandbobb y
What about There And Back?
No doubt. He's awesome. I disagreed with the comments on the artist bio provided. He's the man !!!!
Chills! Never ceases to amaze
Joss Stone
Who's the singer on this track I Put A Spell On You (Radio Single)?
philippepelu s o
...speaking of Zappa, it's interesting to note that Jeff Beck hired monster drummers that had played with Zappa: Terry Bozzio and Vinnie Colaiuta
Add Zappa to your list Potash.
Eric Clapton said it best, jeff beck doesn't play the guitar, he pulls the music out of it seen him several times and still get goose bumps watching him play.
jeff is THE guitar GOD.
michaelleejo n e s
Finally had a chance to see Jeff Beck last week in Denver. I've been in awe of his guitar prowess since I heard Blow by Blow as a college freshman. We wore out that album! Just wish that he had been by himself on stage, playing old and new music.
Loved his time with Tail Wilkenfeld. Good chemistry.
Jeff Beck alone is just great
kentsavage11
Yeah, one of the best is sufficient. It's all too subjective to ever say best. Favorite is ok & JB is one of mine...in MY top 3 of all time...Hendr i x sloppy???!!! Give me a break
Becks the Best
Jimi ? Naw!
Now you have heard THE best rock guitarist ever. Period.
Hey Man How do you do That!! Do What........ Play with Feelings!!!! ! ! Thanks 4 your Strings!!!!! ! !
Nearly as visionary are you crazy Hendrix was sloppy. By his own mouth his playing did not come out like he was hearing it in his head. Beck on the other hand is far from sloppy, precision comes to mind. Listen to all of his stuff he innovated and re-created and redefined what can be done with a guitar. His playing is the most fluid and ever changing all the time. I don't like to do the best list. players are all different, different lives,experi e n c e s , backgrounds etc. But...
Jeff plays with passion, taking over your senses, and still as potent as ever.
what an inspired song title:Head For Backstage Pass!
Happy 70th BD Jeff. You are the man!
I have had the honor of seeing the great Jeff Beck perform 4 times the past 5 years and it was money well spent. There is never any doubt as to who is in command of the stage when a guitar is in the hands of Jeff Beck.
sonoman_43
saw him at the Fox in Oaktown. great show, 2nd row standing (sitting at a rock show is lame) I saved a guys life on my right. He went timber to his left and I stuck out my left foot and got his neck before his head hit like a watermelon
roco.6078
your eyes are getting very heavy... you are hypnotized.. .
I am blessed to be living in this age of music which will be heard from then to the future.
Projecting LOVE to the masses, six strings at a time. Love you Jeff buddy!
Real live gutsy, ballsy, hot, barking, understated, tasty, pioneering, makes-me-cry , groundbreaki n g all in one truly great man. Saw him live, long ago, for his Blow by Blow tour and felt that I was witnessing history. It raised the bar really, really high. Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn, David Gilmour and Joe Satrianni are simply the six best guitarists ever to live and they're all wearing angel wings, living or not.
Platinum!
*planet
*planet
from another plant, next to the one Jimmi was from...
from another plant, next to the one Jimmi was from...
tOR nERHEIM SAY woah tired of bs prints so lets do new print!
Just take it all in f**k the opinions everyone mentioned is great
There are so many great guitarist from everywhere in the world that to pick the best one is an impossible task.....I believe that....but if you asked me to pick a favourite I would have to mention Jeff Beck in the top 3....and feel terrible that I didn't mention him first.....it is such a conundrum. But I am glad that there are so many truly great guitarist I have heard in 68yrs on this spinning orb....I never get tired of any of them.
Beck-O-La!
SOOOO many people who just don't have a CLUE Beck is a bad mother F$%@#! and a great auto mechanic. Look up his collection of cars. He does ALL his own work.
1975........ . .
Man cruising DFW to Denver co. Phoenix. Nothin' but sage bush & J Beck
got a point there JW forgive) but yeah... just listened to Air Blower.. (ah Jeff) beautiful guitarist... . he's probably a lame mechanic!..g o o d point though....te c h i e s here gotta go!
james.wilson 4 9

Jeff Beck's ongoing failure to garner a broader audience is testament to a subconscious desire to fail that has benefited us all. He would have flamed out on mega fame and fortune, (see 'Blow by Blow' and 'Wired'... add millions of dollars: extrapolate) . Instead he's woven into and out of the collective consciousnes s for decades. I hope he keeps it up.
I was bummed that the only colour a Jeff Beck signature series strat comes in is Foam green ugh... Jeff, love your playing.. but are you colour blind?... (ended up with a black american standard, sigh)
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