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.