Jeff Beck, a guitar virtuoso who pushed the boundaries of blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll, influencing generations of shredders along the way and becoming known as the guitar player’s guitar player, has died. He was 78.
Beck died Tuesday after “suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis,” his representatives said in a statement released Wednesday. The location was not immediately known.
Jeff was such a nice person and an outstanding iconic, genius guitar player — there will never be another Jeff Beck,” Tony Iommi, guitarist for Black Sabbath wrote on Twitter among the many tributes.
JEFF BECK TRIBUTES
– Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart pay tribute after death of Jeff Beck
Beck first came to prominence as a member of the Yardbirds and then went out on his own in a solo career that incorporated hard rock, jazz, funky blues and even opera. He was known for his improvising, love of harmonics and the whammy bar on his preferred guitar, the Fender Stratocaster.
Beck was among the rock-guitarist pantheon from the late ’60s that included Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. Beck won eight Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice — once with the Yardbirds in 1992 and again as a solo artist in 2009. He was ranked fifth in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”
“Jeff could channel music from the ethereal,” Page tweeted Wednesday.
Beck played guitar with vocalists as varied as Luciano Pavarotti, Macy Gray, Chrissie Hynde, Joss Stone, Imelda May, Cyndi Lauper, Wynonna Judd, Buddy Guy and Johnny Depp. He made two records with Rod Stewart — 1968′s “Truth” and 1969′s “Beck-Ola” — and one with a 64-piece orchestra, “Emotion & Commotion.”
“I like an element of chaos in music. That feeling is the best thing ever, as long as you don’t have too much of it. It’s got to be in balance. I just saw Cirque du Soleil, and it struck me as complete organized chaos,” he told Guitar World in 2014. “If I could turn that into music, it’s not far away from what my ultimate goal would be, which is to delight people with chaos and beauty at the same time.”
Beck career highlights include joining with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice to create the power trio that released “Beck, Bogert and Appice” in 1973, tours with Brian Wilson and Buddy Guy and a tribute album to the late guitarist Les Paul, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Party (Honoring Les Paul).”
Beck’s album credits include “Talking Book,” Stevie Wonder’s landmark 1972 album. His tenderly rendered guitar solo on the ballad, “Lookin’ For Another Pure Love” won him a warm “Do it Jeff” callout from Wonder that was included on the album cut.
Beck’s career never hit the commercial highs of Clapton. A perfectionist, he preferred to make critically well-received instrumental records and left the limelight for long stretches, enjoying his time restoring vintage automobiles. He and Clapton had a tense relationship early on but became friends in later life and toured together.
Why did the two wait some four decades to tour together?
“Because we were all trying to be big bananas,” Beck told Rolling Stone in 2010. “Except I didn’t have the luxury of the hit songs Eric’s got.”
Beck is survived by his wife, Sandra.