Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck is an English rock guitarist who emerged as the lead soloist in the Yardbirds during the mid-1960s. In 1968, he formed the first edition of the Jeff Beck Group with vocalist Rod Stewart and bassist Ron Wood, releasing two albums on Columbia in 1968 and 1969.

In 1971, Beck formed a second iteration of his namesake backing group with drummer Cozy Powell and keyboardist Max Middleton, releasing two albums on Epic. In 1973, Beck teamed with Vanilla Fudge alumni in the supertrio Beck, Bogert & Appice, which released a studio album and a live disc in the space of that year. By the mid-1970s, Beck embraced jazz-rock with the George Martin-produced Epic titles Blow by Blow (1975) and Wired (1976).


Jeff Beck was born Geoffrey Arnold Beck on June 24, 1944, in Wallington, Surrey, England. His interest in the electric guitar was sparked at age six when he heard Les Paul’s 1951 version of “How High the Moon” on the radio. As a teenager, he built his first guitar with bolted cigar boxes and a fence post.

In 1962, Beck attended Wimbledon College of Art and gigged in a string of bands, including The Crescents, The Bandits, and Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages. The following year, he formed the R&B/beat combo The Nightshift, which issued the Piccadilly single “Stormy Monday” / “That’s My Story.” He passed through several more bands on London’s beat scene (The Rumbles, The Tridents) and played on the 1964 Parlophone single “I’m Not Running Away” (b/w “So Sweet”) by Fitz & Startz.

In March 1965, friend and fellow guitarist Jimmy Page recommended Beck to the Yardbirds, where he replaced Eric Clapton. Beck served as their lead guitarist for 20 months, playing on the 1965/66 singles “Heart Full of Soul,” “Evil Hearted You,” “Shapes of Things,” “Over Under Sideways Down,” “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago,” and the 1966 album Yardbirds (aka Roger the Engineer).

Beck’s time with the Yardbirds was marked by sonic innovations, such as the sitar-buzz tone on “Heart Full of Soul” and the reverb effects on “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago.” The latter also features Page, who joined the lineup in June 1966. Weeks earlier, Beck and Page teamed with Who drummer Keith Moon, pianist Nicky Hopkins, and bassist John Paul Jones on “Beck’s Bolero,” an instrumental based on Ravel’s Boléro.

In November 1966, Beck was dismissed from the Yardbirds.


Discography:

  • Truth (1968)
  • Beck-Ola (1969 • The Jeff Beck Group)
  • Rough and Ready (1971 • Jeff Beck Group)
  • Jeff Beck Group (1972 • Jeff Beck Group)
  • Blow by Blow (1975)
  • Wired (1976)
  • Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live (1977)
  • There and Back (1980)
  • Flash (1985)
  • Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop (1989)

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