Iconic rock guitarist Jeff Beck dead at 78

Jeff Beck, the influential guitarist who rose to rock and roll stardom with 1960s supergroup the Yardbirds and later had a prolific solo career, has died, his official website said on Wednesday (Jan 11). He was 78.

The eight-time Grammy award winner, a guitar virtuoso and innovator who was also one of the world’s great rhythm and blues interpreters, died “peacefully” after a sudden bout of bacterial meningitis.

“On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing. After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday,” a statement on the English-born musician’s website said.

“His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”

Beck’s death quickly reverberated around the music world, with tributes pouring in from rock icons like Ozzy Osborne, with whom Beck once collaborated, and Kiss lead singer Gene Simmons, who called Beck’s passing “heartbreaking.”

“No one played guitar like Jeff,” Simmons posted on Twitter. “Please get ahold of the first two Jeff Beck Group albums and behold greatness. RIP.”

Musician Paul Young said he was “devastated” to hear the news.

“He was loved by everyone in the know,” Young tweeted, calling Beck “the guitarists’ guitarist”.

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi mourned Beck’s death on Twitter, saying he was shocked to hear of his passing.

“Jeff was such a nice person and an outstanding iconic, genius guitar player – there will never be another Jeff Beck,” Iommi wrote. “His playing was very special & distinctively brilliant! He will be missed.”

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, also a former Yardbirds member, paid tribute to Beck, saying his technique was unique and imagination limitless.

“The six stringed Warrior is no longer here for us to admire the spell he could weave around our mortal emotions. Jeff could channel music from the ethereal,” he said. “Jeff, I will miss you along with your millions of fans.”

Beck had already done pioneering rock recordings by the time he was hired by the Yardbirds in 1965 immediately after the departure of one of the band’s star guitarists, Eric Clapton.

Beck helped propel the British avant-garde rock sound with multiple groundbreaking recordings, including the fuzz-filled guitar licks on Heart Full of Soul.

By 1966 he was paired in the Yardbirds with fellow guitar wizard Page.

A year later, Beck formed his own band, the Jeff Beck Group, which swiftly drew widespread praise.

A native of Wallington, England, Beck won his first Grammy award in 1985 with the instrumental Escape.

He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice – in 1992 for his work with the Yardbirds and as a solo performer in 2009. 

In 2015, Rolling Stone magazine placed Beck at number five in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

In 2022, he released his final album, 18, a 13-track collection of mostly cover songs, with Hollywood star Johnny Depp.

“We slowly built songs that we just like. We didn’t really make any design,” Beck said at the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *