Jeff Beck, the legendary guitar player who pushed the boundaries of rock ‘n roll, blues, and jazz and influenced a generation of guitarists, is dead at the age 78.
Beck died on Tuesday, January 10, after an acute attack of bacterial meningitis, according to a statement from his representative.
Described as one of the world’s greatest guitarists, Beck, who famously insured his fingers and thumbs for 7 million pounds, equivalent to $8.5 million, was known as an innovator in the music world.
Throughout his career, Beck pioneered jazz-rock, experimented with distortion effects and fuzz, and made way for heavy metal and psych-rock in the mainstream music scene.
Amongst his most notable achievements was the eight Grammys he won. The guitarist was inducted into the Rock ’n Roll Hall of Fame both as a British rock band Yardbirds member and a solo artist.
Tributes from fellow musicians and friends began streaming into social media almost immediately after the news broke. Jimmy Page, originally in the Yardbirds and later in the famous rock group Led Zeppelin, wrote on Twitter that the six-stringed warrior was gone. He praised Beck’s musical genius by calling his technique unique and his imagination limitless.
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones also took to Twitter to mourn the legend’s death, posting that Beck’s death meant the world had lost a wonderful man. He called Beck “one of the greatest guitar players in the world.”
Gene Simmons of Kiss said that it was heartbreaking to hear the news and no one played the guitar like Beck, which was proven in the first two albums of the Jeff Beck Group.
Ozzy Osbourne mourned Beck’s death and consoled his family and friends. He said he was honored to have Beck play on his most recent album.
Jeff Beck was born in 1944 as Geoffrey Becks in Wallington, South London. He was a musical child who sang in the church choir and then began playing the guitar as a teenager. Beck briefly attended an art school in London and then joined Screaming Lord Sutch. He left the group and joined the Yardbirds after Eric Clapton left, and Jimmy Page recommended him as a replacement.
Although the band was successful when Beck joined, they had most of their biggest hits after he joined. Beck left the Yardbirds after just 20 months, citing tensions.
Beck went solo, and in 1968, he released Truth, his debut album, which fused blues and hard rock. In 1970, he released two records with the Jeff Beck Group, which had the jazz fusion sound that he became famous for.
He went on to release several successful jazz fusion albums in the mid-70s and 80s, including Blow by Blow, Wired, and There and Back.
In 1989, he released Guitar Shop, his last solo album of a decade. In 1999, he released Who Else. Beck only released a handful of albums in the 2000s and 2010s.
His latest project was in 2022, a collaborative album he released with Johnny Depp called 18. It included Johnny Depp’s original songs and covers of classic artists, including Marvin Gaye.
Beck’s guitar work is featured in numerous films, including Casino, Stomp the Yard, Observe and Report, Shallow Hal, Honeymoon in Vegas, Twins, and Little Big League.
His wife, Sandra Cash, survives him.