Jeff Beck, one of the greatest guitarists of all time who rose to fame in the English rock band The Yardbirds, died Tuesday at a hospital near his home in Surrey, England. He was 78.
His family said in a statement on Wednesday: “It is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing. After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family asks for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”
Beck won eight Grammy Awards and ranked fifth Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. He was inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: As a member of the Yardbirds in 1992 and as a soloist in 2009.
Beck was born on June 24, 1944 in Wallington, United Kingdom. At 15 he built his first guitar and learned how to thoroughly play the instrument, tackling all sounds from metal to jazz.
The Yardbirds formed in London in 1963, first starting as a blues cover band but then took on sounds like psychedelic rock, prog rock and punk. Beck joined in 1965 and replaced Eric Clapton.
He appeared on several Yardbirds’ albums but left the group in 1966. In 1967, he formed the first version of the Jeff Beck Group that included vocalist Rod Stewart and guitarist-bassist Ronnie Wood.
Stewart and Wood left and Beck’s career was put on hiatus after being injured in a near-fatal car accident in 1969. In 1971 he resurfaced with a new Jeff Beck Group.
In 1973 he formed the supergroup Beck, Bogert & Appice with former Vanilla Fudge members Carmine Appice and Tim Bogert. He then went solo with 1975’s Blow by Blow, which was produced by Beatles collaborator George Martin and achieved platinum status. His other albums to go platinum include 1976’s Wired and his 2008 effort Performing This Week… Live at Ronnie Scott’s. Seven of his albums reached gold status.
Beck was a highly sought after collaborator, working with everyone from Stevie Wonder and Buddy Guy to Tina Turner and Mick Jagger.
Beck’s most recent album was 18, a collaborative project with actor-musician Johnny Depp. It was released in July 2022 and features two original tracks as well as covers of songs by The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, The Velvet Underground, The Everly Brothers, The Miracles, Killing Joke and Janis Ian.
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