RIP TO AN ELECTRIC GUITAR MASTER: Rock icon Jeff Beck dead at 78 after bout with meningitis.
More at Variety: Jeff Beck, One of the Guitar Masters of the Rock Era, Dies at 78.
Beck recently completed a tour supporting his collaborative album with Johnny Depp, “18.” He received seven Grammys for instrumental performances, and an eighth for his 2009 work on Herbie Hancock’s “The Imagine Project.”
A fleet, imaginative soloist, Beck brought formidable instrumental firepower to British band the Yardbirds, which he joined in 1965 as a replacement for Eric Clapton. Entirely at home with the group’s blues roots, he burnished their pop hits with an adventurous and virtually unprecedented use of feedback, sustain and fuzz.
After a precipitous exit from the Yardbirds — where he had been joined by another future guitar star, Jimmy Page — he established his own band, the Jeff Beck Group, which was fronted by vocalist Rod Stewart, soon to become a solo star. The unit proved as unstable as it was powerful, and lasted for just two albums.
During the ’70s, Beck assembled a second, more R&B-oriented edition of his group, and briefly formed a short-lived power trio with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice of Vanilla Fudge and Cactus.
He reached the probable apex of both his critical and commercial success with a pair of mid-’70s all-instrumental albums, “Blow by Blow” and “Wired,” that found him moving into jazz-fusion terrain. The latter LP was recorded with keyboardist Jan Hammer, formerly of the top fusion act the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
From the early ’80s onward, the temperamental Beck — a notorious perfectionist in the studio and a prickly band mate — would sporadically reappear, retrench, retire and reappear again. His latter-day work ranged from an homage to rockabilly singer Gene Vincent to instrumental sets reflecting the influence of techno, electronica and ambient music.
Nobody outside of Ravi Shankar on the sitar could find more tiny microtones between the conventional music scale when bending notes than Beck. Absolute legend.