Jeff Beck, 1944 – 2023

Very shocked to read this morning that Jeff Beck has passed away after suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis. I don’t often do these memorial type posts but Jeff Beck was simply one of the greatest players to pick up a guitar.

As another such great, David Gilmour said: “I am devastated to hear the news of the death of my friend and hero Jeff Beck, whose music has thrilled and inspired me and countless others for so many years … He will be forever in our hearts.”

As I mentioned back in my 20 Guitarists List: it’s impossible to think of a player that’s dabbled in so many different genres and had such a long successful career. While I’m not a fan of all of it – most recent outings included – the constant throughout is just how astoundingly great a guitarist Beck was. From stepping into Clapton’s shoes in the Yardbirds and transforming that band, a brief silver-lined foray into playing ‘pop’, the Jeff Beck Group and Truth to mountains of solo work that changed genre more often than Madonna changes her face – Beck remained one of the best players out there.

Oddly, despite finding pictures of him throughout the biogs of musicians various (whether running down a riff backstage with Joe Perry, debating with Jimmy Page or sharing a laugh with David Gilmour it was clear the ‘guitarist’s guitarist’ tag was applicable) his massively varied and world-travelling career, I always thought of Jeff as the ‘local guitar god’ as, despite being born in South London he’d lived not too far from where I sit and type these words and, later, only a (admittedly pretty impressive) stone’s throw from my office having moved to Wadhurst in East Sussex.

Rest easy Jeff.

9 thoughts on “Jeff Beck, 1944 – 2023

  1. This popped up in my news feed and it will likely join my list of “where were you when you heard?” list. A devastating loss. As I mentioned on my own blog, I came thisclose to seeing him in Boston a few months ago. Literally, the only reason I didn’t go was because I’d already spent so much money on tickets due to all bands returning at more or less the same time. As when Petty last came around, I said, “Well I’ll see him next time” and now there isn’t one. I’ll probably miss seeing some more of the older ones before they go but you can’t see everybody. Your BBQ won’t be the same without him.

  2. I like Jeff Beck, but I’ve only dabbled a little with his stuff – it didn’t hit me emotionally like it would have for his more dedicated fans. I’m sure I’ll get to him sometime.

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