“Well, me and a friend got a train and a bus up to London from Croydon and we asked a porter where all the guitars were. He happened to know and said Charing Cross Road, so we jumped on a bus, ran upstairs and looked out the window for guitar stores. “I hardly saw any money and then I got really ill and thought, ‘Why am I doing this for 60 bucks a week?’ We’d had three chart successes in England and I thought, ‘What’s going on?’ I ate bad fish in France and got food poisoning. I was sick for four days in this hotel and the rest of the band left me to go night‑clubbing in St Tropez. “The next time I went back, the guy says, ‘Hmm, I remember you…’ I started playing some Chet Atkins on the Strat and people started coming in off the street to listen. The guy says, ‘Keep playing, keep playing!’ I thought, ‘You bastard! I’m getting all your bloody customers for you, I’ll put my foot on your amp all day long!’“We made friends with a sales guy who used to let us play any guitar in the shop. He was great, he’d leave us alone and say, ‘Just don’t nick anything!’ We never did and they couldn’t get rid of us. Then some 15-year-old kid would come in and his dad would buy him a Strat outright for cash. Case and all! Strap, strings, pick… We’d sit there scowling.” Every musician I knew was raving about Mahavishnu Orchestra. I thought, ‘This is a little bit of me, this. I’ll have some of that.’ The mastery of the playing, it was unequalled “Really, you’ve got to hand it to the Fender Strat because there are songs in [that guitar]. It’s a tool of great inspiration and torture at the same time because it’s forever sitting there challenging you to find something else in it, but it is there if you really search. It does respond to touch and the tonal variation is unlimited, really, especially with the whammy bar. I have it set up so it becomes almost like a pedal steel.”“It’s just not me. I listen to Jimi who had a peculiar voice and it wasn’t a great voice, but it was just magic. He never did scream, it was always the guitar that screamed for him and I still marvel at him even today.“I got thrown out of my lodgings, went back home and my mum said, ‘Get out, we don’t want you here, either!’ How much worse could it get? Then finally things started to turn around and I started getting some success in my own name. I had a couple of hits in 1967 with Hi Ho Silver Lining and Tallyman.”“Things took a funny turn in the early ’70s. It all turned out well when I heard John McLaughlin because his performance on the Miles Davis Jack Johnson album and with Mahavishnu Orchestra said, ‘Here’s where you can go.’ And every musician I knew was raving about them. I thought, ‘This is a little bit of me, this. I’ll have some of that.’ The mastery of the playing, it was unequalled.”“I enjoy talking about these times – they’re still fresh in my head. They were wonderful times and, unfortunately, they didn’t last for us because The Yardbirds depended more heavily on guitar than they knew until I walked out, or was thrown out. I was a bit upset about the non-stop touring and the package tours without any real reward.
“My first experience with a guitar was as a kid when I was at a friend’s house who was slightly spoiled, he had a record player, a tape recorder, a guitar – all the toys. He’d got bored with the guitar and it only had a couple of strings on it. I started playing around with it and he said, ‘Do you wanna borrow it?’ I said, ‘Yes, please!’
“I just went to ground. A fan found out where I lived and he pretty much saved my life. It was the lowest point in my career. I was on special painkillers and this fan saw my Corvette outside, knocked on my door and said, ‘You can’t drive, you’re too ill.’ I said, ‘Who the hell are you?’ He showed me a newspaper report that the band had gone on tour and said, ‘You’ve got to get the bus,’ and he took care of me.We made friends with a sales guy who used to let us play any guitar in the shop. He was great, he’d leave us alone and say, ‘Just don’t nick anything!’
“We stood there motionless, salivating, for at least five minutes and my mate said, ‘Shall we go in?’ I said, ‘No, no, we can’t go in!’ We were completely freaked out.
“After a while we went in and I said, ‘I’d like to try the Fender Stratocaster, please,’ and the guy said, ‘Yes, gentlemen, certainly sir. You are intending to buy it, are you?’ We didn’t have a pot to piss in, but we said, ‘Yeah, yeah…’ I played it for a while and it was a totally magical experience. Then I put my muddy boot up on an amp and the guy said, ‘Right, get out!’ I was happy that I’d played the Strat and didn’t care about being thrown out of the store.Jamie Dickson is Editor-in-Chief of Guitarist magazine, Britain’s best-selling and longest-running monthly for guitar players. He started his career at the Daily Telegraph in London, where his first assignment was interviewing blue-eyed soul legend Robert Palmer, going on to become a full-time author on music, writing for benchmark references such as 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Dorling Kindersley’s How To Play Guitar Step By Step. He joined Guitarist in 2011 and since then it has been his privilege to interview everyone from B.B. King to St. Vincent for Guitarist’s readers, while sharing insights into scores of historic guitars, from Rory Gallagher’s ’61 Strat to the first Martin D-28 ever made. “It’s so difficult because I didn’t sing. Eric [Clapton] said, and it was words of great wisdom, ‘Get used to the fact that you hate your voice because I did.’ And I went, ‘But you sound good; I sound unbearably bad. I loathe it.’ I would never enjoy it even if we had another single like [Hi Ho] Silver Lining, I just couldn’t bear it. He said, ‘I’m telling you, if you don’t, it’s going to be tough.’ “And it was tough, but then I can turn around and say, ‘Blow By Blow, put that in your pipe and smoke it, mate.’ But he’s right, if I did come up with a song and everybody loved it, it would instil confidence automatically and I might even get to like what I sound like, but letting that out there is more than I can bear.“My mate suddenly said, ‘Oh my God!’ We belted down the stairs, stumbling over one another, ran in front of all the traffic and there we found a Tele and a Strat in the window of Jennings Musical Instruments [the original Vox Amplifier Shop, at 100 Charing Cross Road].
“The place always smelled of pipe smoke and the sales guys were very intimidating. Another shop in Charing Cross Road we used to bug was called Lew Davis. There we discovered a slapback echo device and we were in heaven.
“I think it’s good to do that and it’s been easy because if you have a massive hit, where are you going to go? You’ll make the worst step ever and slip over, but not having any big hits – and I mean giant hits – it makes it a lot easier to just jump into another genre because you’re not cheating somebody out of something they like. I’m an experimenter. It’s rich because every album I’ve done, except for a couple of techno-y records, is different.”
“It probably didn’t actually cross my mind until a few years ago when I realised that all the things I hated, such as the touring and the long bus journeys, once you come to terms with the fact that this is what you have to do and then start enjoying it, then it’s not a problem.“I never listened to more Jimi than I do now because I’ve got some really rare recordings, it’s just humiliating to know that he was doing that up to 1970, all in a period of about three-and-a-half years.
“I remember carrying it home in the rain and taking my coat off to wrap around it to protect it. Right then, I felt a kind of protective thing towards the guitar. I didn’t have any strings so I used some model aeroplane control line wire, the kind that made the model fly round in circles. The people next-door-but-one had a zither and that was actually the first stringed instrument that I touched.”
In these classic interviews, the late Jeff Beck, a man who typically preferred to let the guitar do the talking, looks back on his career and discusses his gear discoveries and creative epiphanies“I go 600 miles on a bus now, whereas in the past I would refuse to go six miles without screaming about it. It’s better than flying and we have a lot of fun. There’s all the thorny edginess of a soap opera wrapped up in a tour, but it’s part of life and you’re enjoying life in a kind of private bubble. Everyone has their jokes, their humour, their problems and it’s great. It’s a whole life in a bus. Jeff Beck’s playing was unforgettable and unique. Who better than Jeff himself, then, to explain how his approach to guitar evolved? We open the archives to revisit Jeff explaining his art, in his own words, in classic interviews. “You get to be a gypsy for three months and feel like you’re exempt from any outside responsibilities. I would never have believed it, but I’ve just started to take a laptop on the road to keep in touch with home via the internet! Being a musician means everything to me.”
“My Strat is another arm – it’s part of me. It doesn’t feel like a guitar at all. It’s an implement which is my voice. A Les Paul feels like a guitar and I play differently on that and I sound too much like someone else. With the Strat, instantly it becomes mine so that’s why I’ve welded myself to that. Or it’s welded itself to me, one or the other.
“My head hurt so much I couldn’t even move it on the pillow. When it eventually subsided someone put me on a plane back to England and I don’t even know how I got home. I wanted the band to call me, but they’d gone to Australia without me.“I said, ‘What are you doing, Cozy?’ He said, ‘Well, I can’t play that kit. If you want, I’ll play badly on that kit or really well on my kit.’ I went, ‘Okay’. He didn’t realise that was the Holy Grail of that studio. They were tuned for the room, how could he not use that kit played by Benny Benjamin, Pistol Allen? But that’s just the way he was.”
“We were trying to super-charge what Motown were offering. They had these very tasteful, beautifully played pop singles, we came along and put metal to it – Metal Motown. The funniest thing was one of the tape ops said, on a coffee break, ‘You guys came here for the Motown sound?’ ‘Yeah, man!’ ‘It just went straight out the door!’ because Cozy moved the drum kit!“I had a phone call, we arranged to meet and that’s how it started because I’d already heard him when he was with [English blues singer Long] John Baldry and really – I liked him better than Baldry. But he only did three or four songs as a guest. The next time I heard him was at a festival, Richmond I think it was. We played, and then he was on afterward with Baldry. The sound was blasting out of a big PA and I thought, ‘That man, there he is, that’s the geezer we need!’ And I never did anything about it because he was already involved with them.“My job was to instigate the proceedings. It was joyous watching them get stuck in – I just had to put the idea on the table and they were all over it with a freshness that’s so lacking nowadays.”
“The big joiner was the blues, and the fact that she could really play made me think, ‘Wow, this is incredible, maybe this is the right choice for me.’ And to have Rosie as well – I hadn’t envisaged a time when somebody would sit down in my house and literally write lyrics as I was coming up with the ideas.
“Let’s not beat around the bush, I was pretty down at the time – I’d lost my girl, Hendrix had come and smeared everybody across the floor… it wasn’t looking too rosy. I’d fallen out with the Yardbirds – whatever happened I was out, and I’m facing a Monday morning just outside London thinking, What’s the point? It’s all gone against me. So I went to the Cromwell Inn, which was my last hope of preventing anything silly happening.“What I was trying to do with Rod was take a little bit of Motown, put in some heavy backbeat. The drummer at the time was trained by one of the Motown drummers, who I think was over here on a Motown revue, so he had all the chops of Motown, but with more rock ’n’ roll power behind it for live stuff. “That was always lurking because of the mastery of the playing, it was unequalled and I don’t think there will ever be a four-piece with that kind of [talent]… it’s as peculiar as the gathering of the Monty Python guys. “It’s just not me. I listen to Jimi who had a peculiar voice and it wasn’t a great voice but it was just magic. He never did scream, it was always the guitar that screamed for him and I still marvel at him even today. I never listened to more Jimi than I do now because I’ve got some really rare recordings, it’s just humiliating to know that he was doing that up to 1970, all in a period of about three and a half years.“Yeah. The first day we’d look at a picture and talk about it for 20 minutes. ‘We’ll never get there! Come on! What about this one?’ There were the obvious ones of me and Stevie [Wonder] in Electric Ladyland, and I’ve got a rare shot of me in Motown.
“The combination really worked, especially with Ronnie on bass. He played a big Fender with a Marshall and it was great and I think he’s a better bass player in some ways than he was a guitarist. And with Rod, it was like a black soul singer, the gruff voice – unfortunately it didn’t last long.“Genesis Publications had already done Jimmy Page [2010’s Jimmy Page On Jimmy Page], so I supposed I was in their sights. I didn’t want to do it at all and they said, ‘But you can choose what photos go in there.’
“I’d love him to come out to the Hollywood Bowl, maybe give him a little tweak in this article – ‘Jan! How can you not be there when you’re such a major part of my career?’ But I think he has a fear of travelling… or a loathing for airports [Jan does indeed make it to the Hollywood Bowl gig as you can see in the video below].
“So I agreed a bit reluctantly. Because my autobiography was delayed and I thought this would be a missed opportunity to have an album and a tour and not to have something there, so I agreed, at least that photographic album will be out.
Classic Interview: From playing blues with the Yardbirds in the 60s, Jeff Beck has taken his beloved Fender Strat into the worlds of fusion and jazz-rock, rockabilly, electronica, and now he’s plunged into straight-ahead hard rock by teaming up with Rosie Bones and Carmen Vandenberg from the band Bones UK.“It was the flattest, most boring Monday and I remember sitting there listening to Motown, thinking, this isn’t a bad move, such great songs, great playing – whoever the artist is, you know that those players are the same fabulous players that were the studio players.
“I’ve seen it enough times to start worrying about what’s in there! Hopefully somebody will get some enjoyment out of it, there are some rare pictures in there.”
“I’m an experimenter. It’s rich because every album I’ve done, except for a couple of techno-y records, are different. Really you’ve got to hand it to the Fender Strat, because there are songs in [that guitar]. It’s a tool of great inspiration and torture at the same time because it’s forever sitting there challenging you to find something else in it, but it is there if you really search. There’s a huge difference between the first Jeff Beck Group albums, with their soul and R&B, and the fusion on Blow By Blow. Was that John McLaughlin’s influence? “I also have a loathing for airports – it’s only by the grit of my teeth I get through them. But I didn’t want to start becoming elite and above [guitar magazines] – they’ve been great to me. I didn’t want to be in the middle of a fusion confusion, I wanted to be me again. The real me is on this record, more of the real me musically.”
“Things took a funny turn in the early 70s. It all turned out well when I heard John McLaughlin, because his performance on the Miles Davis Jack Johnson album and with Mahavishnu Orchestra said, ‘Here’s where you can go’. And every musician I knew was raving about them. I thought, ‘This is a little bit of me, this. I’ll have some of that.’ The mastery of the playing, it was unequalled.”
“Then I heard that he might be free, and as luck would have it, he was the last, dying ember in this club I was in, and I’m glad I went! It’s always a good idea to go out somewhere, because you’re not going to have anybody knocking on the door, are you?”“The next thing I know Ronnie says, ‘Sorry, Rod would love to do it but he’s doing Vegas.’ I said to him, ‘Why doesn’t he get on a jet and come? If he does the Vegas show early and gets on a plane, he could be in LA in 35 minutes!’ But it’s not going to work out. Really, he’s a Vegas singer now [the pair end up reuniting for the first time in a decade at the encore of Stewart’s Hollywood Bowl gig on 27 September 2019]. You can’t be 11 again, you can’t put your jeans on and start shouting and screaming [laughs].”“I think it’s good to do that and it’s been easy, because if you have a massive hit, where are you going to go? You’ll make the worst step ever and slip over, but not having any big hits – and I mean giant hits – it makes it a lot easier to just jump into another genre because you’re not cheating somebody out of something they like.“He may well have done. Out of his comfort zone, that’s fine because you don’t get too fancy, you just play the raw bass ingredient. Good fun, in fact it gave birth to Aerosmith – they told me it did! Billy Gibbons, when he was in The Moving Sidewalks, said that when we appeared at this club, his life changed. I don’t know if it was for the better, but he’d never seen amps that touched the ceiling.”
“She probably was, but I tried to instil confidence so I was playing tutor as well. It wasn’t any high pressure thing, ‘You’ve got to learn this,’ but she treated it as though it was. She’d go on YouTube and check me out.
“It’s so difficult because I didn’t sing. Eric [Clapton] said, and it was words of great wisdom, ‘Get used to the fact that you hate your voice, because I did.’ And I went, ‘But you sound good, I sound unbearably bad. I loathe it. I would never enjoy it even if we had another single like [Hi Ho] Silver Lining, I just couldn’t bear it.’Loud Hailer was written by the trio at Beck’s house, a process aided by several crates of Prosecco, and is released alongside BECK01 – a book of photographs chronicling both the guitarist’s long career and his lifelong love of hot rods. Preparing [when we spoke] to mark 50 years in music with a huge gig at LA’s Hollywood Bowl, Beck’s engine shows no signs of slowing down.
Classic interview: More than 55 years on from his ousting from The Yardbirds, we revisit this classic interview where Beck looked back on an incredible story
“That came out as a little bit of slur on [guitar magazines], it was never intended to be that. I just didn’t want to be a central figure in muso-land. I want to be doing more than being on the cover of Guitar World magazine.“That whole scenario of reciting a series of instrumentals, I’ve done it – I’ve done it with an orchestra, I’ve done it with fusion, and it’s okay but it’s so wearing. It’s very difficult to be entertaining. That was okay in the day, especially with Jan Hammer [Mahavishnu Orchestra keyboard and synth maestro that Beck collaborated with in 70s and 80s], because there was gymnastics that were beyond belief – but there is no Jan Hammer anymore – he doesn’t play live shows, he’s folded the tent, gone into the studio.
“My Strat is another arm, it’s part of me. It doesn’t feel like a guitar at all. It’s an implement which is my voice. A Les Paul feels like a guitar and I play differently on that and I sound too much like someone else. With the Strat, instantly it becomes mine so that’s why I’ve welded myself to that. Or it’s welded itself to me, one or the other.”
In 2016 Total Guitar interviewed iconic guitar maestro Jeff Beck for a cover feature to talk about his then-new album Loud Hailer, and a retrospective photography collection, BECK01, prompting a look back at his roots and early days with the hugely influential Jeff Beck Band.
“We made the demos and they weren’t great sound-wise, but the content was there. You could see what was going to unfold with very little effort. Then the third thing that cemented it was Filippo [Cimatti], who produced it. To have those three people of one accord joining up with me it made a pretty slick outfit.”“What a time – 10 days of racism and abuse! They didn’t like me and Cozy [Powell, Beck’s drummer at the time] until we started playing. ‘Hey Whitey! What have you got?’ Cozy comes out with his double bass drums and it’s deafening and they’re not used to that. But after a few days they really took to us.
“I looked up and there’s a bloke in the corner like that [slumped over] with a beer and I thought, ‘I’m getting out of here’, so I said, ‘Hey mate, you all right?’ He looked up and it was Rod. I said, ‘We’re both fucked. What about we go together and get a band?’ He went, ‘If you mean it, then put your number on this piece of paper.’“He said, ‘I’m telling you, if you don’t, it’s going to be tough.’ And it was tough, but then I can turn around and say, ‘Blow By Blow, put that in your pipe and smoke it, mate.’ But he’s right, if I did come up with a song and everybody loved it, it would instil confidence automatically and I might even get to like what I sound like but letting that out there is more than I can bear.
“Yeah, but because the guitar is what it is – there are magazines that just focus on fuzzboxes and string gauges and stuff like that – the average girl in the street wouldn’t even know what they’re talking about. This album will enable a much broader scope to be drawn in to who I am. Who knows, it might work in my favour!”
“First of all, I couldn’t believe that a young 22- or 23-year-old girl would be in love with Buddy Guy, or even know about him. When she said Albert Collins that was it, because I think he’s the coolest.“There are only two in existence, faded Polaroids of me sitting at the desk in Motown when I was there in ’70/71. It was right before they folded and went west, and I think there is one with [producer] Mickie Most posing outside Hitsville [USA – Motown’s original headquarters in Detroit].
“It does respond to touch and the tonal variation is unlimited really, especially with the whammy bar. I have it set up so it becomes almost like a pedal steel.”“We did all the dirty work over here and it wasn’t until we went to America that I was able to plug into my reputation from the Yardbirds for my first outing as a solo act and they just ate it up. Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened [with the band breaking up]. It was lack of material or I think Rod had it in his mind he was going to go long before I found out about it. I think he wanted to see his name up there instead of mine.” “The incredible individual talent of those players – they had Billy Cobham for crying out loud, he became a household name. Jan Hammer. I was so thrilled to have Jan for two years and for him to be enthusiastic about being on an album and a tour. It was just a natural thing, to follow your heart. That’s what I do and so far it has served me quite well.” Your work in that first Jeff Beck group with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood was so important in the development of the heavier side of blues-rock – were you trying to push the boundaries?“The last six months hasn’t just been doing the album, she’s been learning all the stuff and following my career, so there’s been just about enough time to get comfortable and I’m confident that she’s going to deliver.” “Yeah, I asked him to do the Hollywood Bowl gig that’s coming up. With Woody, I kept bumping into Woody at parties over Christmas, I said, ‘Listen, I’m not going to contact him. If you want to do the Jeff Beck Group, you’ve got to get Rod.’ He goes, ‘Oh, he’s up for it! You need to talk to Arnold (Rod’s manager).’ I thought, ‘No, I’m not talking to Arnold.’ “She goes, ‘I’ve got a band with a girl called Rosie and if you want to hear us, we’re playing at this place.’ So we hot-footed it up there not knowing what to expect and there they were just giving it large. I thought, ‘This is great, maybe we should ask them down, go outside of their style, try to challenge them to do something else.’ As a three-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Eric Clapton isn’t just one of the most prolific guitarists on the planet, he’s also one of the best. Clapton’s love of the blues masters made him an early standout in The Yardbirds, where he first rose to fame alongside a staggering roll call of talent in the early 60s. But Clapton wasn’t the only star to emerge from The Yardbird’s ranks – he wasn’t even the only guitar God! The band is perhaps best known for launching the careers of three of rock’s most legendary players, with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck joining the group following Clapton’s departure.Eric Clapton told Rolling Stone in 1983: “We’ve never been rivals — it was only the press that ever made it seem so. This has been a ball. I realize that you’ve got to go out and play and tour … a live concert is still magic and always will be. I mean, there’s no substitute for the real thing.”
Given their shared history and iconoclastic status, you’d expect the three artists to have been performing together since the 1960s; however, it wouldn’t be until 1983 when the ARMS Charity Concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall brought The Yardbirds’ most treasured alumni together on stage for the very first time.Add the picking and slide guitar style of Sonny Landreth and the vibrato and whammy control of Leslie West and the speed and imagination of Hendrix and…well that’s the best I can do.
Well, there’s comfort in the tried and true, but as an audiophile we can’t stop seeking new listening experiences. I’d forgotten how much of a rush it can be to upgrade your audio system, in this case with my recent acquisition of a new CD transport. I had written off the medium as an also-ran to high-res streaming audio, but now I look forward to rediscovering my CD collection anew. How cool is that? My records aren’t going anywhere, though.
In what was seemingly a demonstration that his playing was not affected, he stood center stage and played a guitar solo with just his left arm and hand, letting the guitar slip through his fingers. I understood it as, “look, if you had any doubts, I’m still the baddest mofo on the planet!Clapton and Page, his guitar god contemporaries achieved much larger fame and fortune. Page was associated with a great singer (Robert Plant), and Clapton could sing very well.
But Jeff? Jeff Beck was just fine. He never had a reputation for drugs or alcoholism. He just recorded constantly and played all the time. He had just finished his latest tour with Johnny Depp as his bandmate. I didn’t go but people tell me the Depp more than held his own.
When Eric came out, first he played just with his band. He then invited Beck to join. This was an unfair fight and Beck, ever the classy guy, laid back but his brilliance and uniqueness broke through. Clapton just seemed beaten.
Beck then joined up with two members of Vanilla Fudge, Tim Bogart and Carmine Appice in 1973 for a much anticipated supergroup, Beck, Bogart & Appice. The band didn’t last long and rumor had it that the manager of Bogart and Appice was so angry that Jeff ended the band that it kept Jeff out of the US for a while.Both of the Jeff Beck group shows were epic. Rod was terrified on the first night in May. Famously, Beck had to coerce Rod to come out from behind the PA.
Other non-singing guitar players of note who amassed a fortune, like Santana, needed to hook up with a vocalist, and in Santana’s case it was Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20. They recorded “Smooth,” which sold millions of albums and put Santana at the top of the charts in 1999.
Eric Clapton could sound bored to death on some nights. Jimmy Page could be terribly sloppy on some nights. So could Jimi, who freaked out Beck, Eric and Pete Townshend the first night they witnessed his playing at the Bag O’Nails club in London on November 25, 1966, to the point that even Beck admitted that there was no reason to play anymore.Beck’s fingerpicking, control of vibrato both with and without a whammy bar, and his total control of volume swells were finely merged into a breathtaking emotional aural palette.
I sat with Jeff later that night after the show upstairs at Ellen’s Stardust Diner (at the record label’s after party) and showed him the Fillmore East programs I had kept from 1969. He signed them and seemed blown away at the Fillmore’s ticket prices (3,4 and 5 dollars).
The Fender Stratocaster replaced the Les Paul. The “Strat” is also much lighter and for some, easier to play as it gives the player access to more frets in the upper registers. This was a very big deal to those of us who felt that to get a really big, deep sustain, you need a much heavier guitar (i.e. a Gibson Les Paul).
Page and Clapton had their playing styles frozen in time. We will never know what Hendrix would have evolved into, but we were able see what Beck had transformed into over the decades.
Beck never had that. I would think that he could have. I mean, who wouldn’t want to work with Jeff? There is no higher pedigree of musician than Mr. Beck. None other than Brian Setzer. Nobody, but nobody plays rockabilly guitar as well as Brian and Beck knew it. Brian owned his part of the night and Beck just stayed out of the way (even when they went toe to toe). I saw Beck for the last time in 2010 at the tiny Iridium club in NYC in a tribute to Les Paul and Mary Ford. Les Paul had been playing at the iridium on Mondays for years prior to his death.
And then…the sea change happened with 1975’s George Martin-produced instrumental album Blow by Blow. This was Beck and his heavy guitar jazz leanings starting to flower. Guitar freaks couldn’t believe the sounds Jeff was coaxing out of his guitar, which was still a Gibson Les Paul. That was soon to change. Beck needed a guitar with a much wider tonal palette as well as a whammy bar.
Beck broke up the Jeff Beck Group one month later, just prior to the Woodstock festival, where they had been asked to perform. It was one of the biggest mistakes Beck has ever admitted to.
George Harrison – he was attacked in his home a couple of years before he succumbed to brain cancer brought about by his prodigious cigarette smoking. Those in the business knew what was going on.
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Our heroes are going to die. We know this intellectually. Many of them also have long drug, alcohol and/or medical issues that we, as fans, know about.
Clapton and Beck toured together in 2010 and I took my girlfriend, now wife, to see the show. She had never seen Jeff Beck before. Beck opened the show and just about closed it down. On the big video screen, up close, one could fully understand and appreciate what Beck had become.Beck mined a style that was wholly unique. He wasn’t Jimi (he was more precise); his playing was very controlled but stylistically explosive. He wasn’t Eric, as he was way more free-form and jazz-influenced where Eric was just steeped in the blues idiom. He wasn’t the songwriter that Page was (nor the producer) nor did he play acoustic guitar with the folk leanings of Page. Beck never had a real partner or foil either as he went from group to group.Beck soldiered on, however, but missed the big-money gravy train. He just did things his own way. From what I understand, he had either the longest (or next to longest) single record label relationship in history (Epic Records to be exact), Dylan being the other one with Columbia (which along with Epic is part of the Sony Music Entertainment family as well).
He traveled his own path and seemed very happy that he could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and would not be constrained by the personal cost of super fame. He had said as much in interviews.
In this issue: Ken Kessler has an exclusive on a revival of a legendary Lowther loudspeaker. Anne E. Johnson listens to Living Colour break rock music stereotypes. The Cable Doctor, Ken Sander, calls on Miloš Forman. Adrian Wu brings us more coverage of the Munich HIGH END 2023 show. The Mindful Melophile Don Kaplan presents a Playbill for an imaginary musical. Ray Chelstowski dials in with New York rockers The Midnight Callers. Howard Kneller takes The Listening Chair for a session with Matrix Audio’s X-SABRE 3 DAC. J.I. Agnew restores vintage SME tonearms.
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Jeff was the archetype of the British guitar slinger with the perfect late 1960s shag haircut, the perfect jeans, the perfect T-shirt, the perfect stance and, above all, a playing style that left those who didn’t know guitar amazed and for those of us who did (the millions of guitar slingers around the world), plain dumbstruck.Beck? Have you ever heard him sing? He actually had a hit in the UK in 1967 with a song called “Hi Ho Silver Lining.” I won’t bother commenting except that it is no surprise that he hooked up with Rod Stewart shortly after that! The best way I can explain what Jeff created as a style is this: take the volume-control mastery of guitar legend Roy Buchanan, and also Roy’s understanding that the size of the guitar amplifier should be relative to the room you are playing in, its proximity to where you are standing, and that the guitar strings’ ability to respond to the touch of the fretboard, can create a mood by interacting with the sonic reflections and reverberation of the amp and the room. Trust me, Beck knew this and always had the correct amp for the job. I cover Octave Records’ latest release, Thom LaFond’s Lawless – a musical love story between a human and an alien, and encounter an unusual chat about audio writing. Andrew Daly talks with Barb Hendrickson and Allan Vest of indie duo doubleVee. B. Jan Montana covers T.H.E Show 2023, an audio show that’s growing in importance – and fun factor. Rudy Radelic covers the music of Michael Franks, “some old jazz guy.” We conclude the issue with solitary listening, reel life, a surrealistic audio zone, and Trixie the Ticket Taker.In January 1967, the first Jeff Beck Group was formed, with singer Rod Stewart, guitarist (and occasional bassist) Ron Wood and keyboard player Nicky Hopkins. Several bassists and drummers would join this core group, which recorded two albums: Truth, released in July 1968, includes “Beck’s Bolero,” (recorded in May 1966 by Beck, Page and The Who drummer Keith Moon), which would become one of Beck’s concert classics. The second album was Beck-Ola, in June 1969. While the first album still shows the influence of The Yardbirds, with elements of blues, Beck-Ola had more of a hard-rock sound, a genre still in its infancy. Shortly after the release of Beck-Ola, Stewart and Wood left the band to form The Faces. In December, Beck had a serious car accident. He had a passion for fast cars that would never leave him.
During a career that began in the early 1960s, he explored many styles: blues, jazz-rock, rock’n’roll, hard-rock, electronic music and pop. He even worked with a symphony ensemble. The British virtuoso guitarist Jeff Beck died on Tuesday, January 10, at the age of 78. A statement from his family, released shortly before midnight on January 11, said the musician had contracted bacterial meningitis, which could not be treated. During a 2001 interview, Jeff Beck told Le Monde about his varied musical journey: “I’ve always looked forward, record after record, concert after concert, tour after tour.”
Jeff, from 2003, was messier, in our opinion. It was with 2010’s Emotion and Commotion that he delivered his most ambitious album. It included contributions from a symphony orchestra and adaptations of classical pieces (including Puccini’s Nessun Dorma) and standards (including “Over The Rainbow”). Keyboard player Jason Rebello also contributed, as did bassist Tal Wilkenfeld and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, another former Zappa collaborator. They formed one of Beck’s best backing bands in the late 2000s. In 2016, Loud Hailer returned to rock, without being really compelling. And in 2022, 18 was released, a collection of covers in which he collaborated with Johnny Depp. Critics and audiences were not hugely enthusiastic about this record.In April 1971, having recovered, he formed his second Jeff Beck Group, with singer and guitarist Bobby Tench, keyboard player Max Middleton, bassist Clive Chaman and drummer Cozy Powell. Their first album Rough and Ready, released in October, was almost entirely composed by Beck and mixed funk, soul and rock sometimes in a psychedelic mood. The following one, simply entitled Jeff Beck Group (1972), had more of a soul sound, with jazz elements (brought by Middleton). It was recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, and produced by Steve Crooper. In both cases, Beck worked wonders.
Born on June 24, 1944, in Wallington, south of London, Beck first learned to play the piano, but he was drawn to the electric guitar from an early age, the guitars he heard on the radio or on blues and rock’n’roll records. After dabbling with art studies and a few odd jobs, in 1962, he joined the band fronted by Screaming Lord Sutch, who appeared on stage in a coffin and used props such as skulls and knives. Then Beck was in several rock and rhythm and blues bands before being invited, in March 1965, to replace Eric Clapton in The Yardbirds.He was still touring regularly (his discography includes several live albums, like Official Bootleg USA’06), but Beck spaced out the release of his studio albums. Flash, in 1985, summarized his 20 years in music, with the participation of Rod Stewart, Carmine Appice and Jan Hammer. Guitar Shop, from 1989, was a return to the trio format, this time with Tony Hymas and the drummer Terry Bozzio, who had started out with Frank Zappa. Technically quite impressive, the album was awarded the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
The content of this website is the work of over 530 journalists who deliver high-quality, reliable and comprehensive news and innovative online services every day. This work is supported by additional revenue from advertising and subscriptions.With a career spanning over 50 years, the musician explored many styles, including blues, hard-rock, jazz-rock, electronic music and pop. He died on January 10, at the age of 78.
Beck then entered his jazz-rock phase, first with the 1975 album Blow By Blow, which would be his biggest commercial success. It was produced by the fifth Beatle, George Martin, and with the participation of Max Middleton on keyboard. Among the most successful songs were “You Know What I Mean” and “Scatterbrain,” both co-written by Beck and Middleton, and “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” by Stevie Wonder. The following album, 1976’s Wired, accentuated the jazz-rock virtuosity (like on “Led Boots” and “Play With Me”), still with Middleton as well as keyboard player Jan Hammer and drummer Narada Michael Walden, both coming from John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra. The album also featured a superb version of Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” which Beck would play regularly in concert. Less interesting was 1980’s There and Back, also with Hammer. It also had some guitar feats (“El Becko” and “Space Boogie”) and was the beginning of Beck’s collaboration with keyboard player Tony Hymas.The band, led by singer and harmonica player Keith Relf, was then mostly known for its blues covers and had its first success with the song “For Your Love” (which had more of a pop sound) when Clapton was a member. Beck would stay in the band until the end of November 1966. During this period he played on songs such as “Shapes of Things,” “Over Under Sideways Down,” “Jeff’s Boogie” and “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago,” on which Jimmy Page, who was soon to replace Beck, also played. His skillful use of certain effects (distortion, wah-wah pedal and modifying pitch with a vibrato mechanism) and his dexterity with techniques, such as touching the strings by modulations and sliding effects, have often been highlighted. A highly-talented technician, he also developed a strong lyricism in his playing. Although he used several types of guitars, he was mainly faithful to the Fender Stratocaster, and in the late 1980s designed a model bearing his name, which was marketed in 1991. Several other Jeff Beck Signature Stratocasters followed. After touring the United States in the summer of 1972, Beck formed the trio Beck, Bogert & Appice (BBA) with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, whom he had met several times in previous years. This supergroup, which clearly had more of a rock sound and in which Bogert and Appice shared the singing, gave us an eponymously titled studio album, released in April 1973, mostly marked by covers. These included Don Nix’s “Sweet Sweet Surrender” and Curtis Mayfield’s “I’m So Proud.” It also featured a version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” The BBA version was recorded before Wonder’s. A live album recorded in Japan, and sold only for the Japanese market, was released in October 1973. Sessions for another studio album began in early 1974, but in the spring, Beck decided to end the trio.In 1993, Jeff Beck evoked the rock of his origins and his first musical musings with Crazy Legs, a collection of covers of songs performed by Gene Vincent. It was an opportunity for Beck to pay tribute to Vincent’s guitarist, Cliff Gallup. Then Who Else! in 1999 was a foray into programming and techno, further explored with You Had It Coming in 2000, in which Beck combined drum’n’bass and hardcore techno rhythms with precise and cutting guitar parts. When the record was released, he explained his approach to us: “What interests me is the power of these rhythmic parts, which are really very rock’n’roll. We dance, we sweat. There is a physical relationship to the music, which becomes a platform for the guitar playing. You shouldn’t play too many notes, you shouldn’t make a demonstration because you lose this energy. I had the opportunity, in other contexts, to show that I could play fast, could play everything. So here, I focus on the most effective, instinctive expressions.”