Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck (1944–2023) was 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.


Truth 

The Jeff Beck Group released their debut album, Truth, on July 28, 1968, in the US on Epic Records. On October 4, Truth appeared in the UK on Columbia Records.


Beck-Ola

The Jeff Beck Group released their second album, Beck-Ola, on US Epic (June 1969) and UK Columbia (August).


Rough and Ready

Jeff Beck released his third ‘Group’ album, Rough and Ready, on October 25, 1971, on Epic. It’s the first of two albums by the second edition of the Jeff Beck Group with bassist Clive Chaman, drummer Cozy Powell, keyboardist Max Middleton, and singing rhythm guitarist Bobby Tench.


Jeff Beck Group

The Jeff Beck Group’s self-titled fourth album appeared on May 1, 1972, on Epic.


Beck, Bogert & Appice

In June 1972, Jeff Beck re-connected with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice. He enlisted them for the tour behind the fourth Jeff Beck Group album in place of Clive Chaman and Cozy Powell (ironically, the two musicians hired in lieu of Bogert and Appice when the American pair got tied to Cactus). When the tour wrapped, Beck formed a power trio with Bogert and Appice.

Beck, Bogert & Appice released a self-titled studio album and a live album, both in 1973 on Epic.


Blow by Blow

Jeff Beck released his fifth album, Blow by Blow, on March 29, 1975, on Epic. It’s his first of two instrumental jazz-rock albums produced by George Martin. Blow by Blow is Beck’s seventh post-Yardbirds album (counting BBA) and technically his first solo album (though Truth, recognized as the first Jeff Beck Group album, is billed under his name alone).


Wired

Jeff Beck released his sixth album, Wired, in May 1976 on Epic.


Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live

In March 1977, Jeff Beck released a collaborative live album with the Jan Hammer Group.


There & Back

Jeff Beck released his seventh solo-lead studio album, There & Back, in June 1980 on Epic.


Flash

Jeff Beck released his eighth solo-lead studio album, Flash, in July 1985 on Epic–CBS.


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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