Jeff Beck is an innovative English rock/blues/fusion guitarist, who has released 24 albums on his own or in the different bands he has taken part in. He has won four Grammy Awards, is ranked 14th on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of all Time" list, and belongs to the "Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame" due to his career along with "The Yardbirds".
Geoffrey Arnold Beck, known as Jeff Beck, was born on 24th June 1944 in Wallington, England. He grew up listening to the radio and hearing his mother play piano, and he tried to build his own guitars until he bought his first real electric guitar. After leaving school he went through several jobs like decorator and car painter before starting to work as a session musician.
1965 was one of the most important years in Beck's life. He got the chance to replace Eric Clapton as lead guitarist of the band "The Yardbirds". The band originally intended to get Jimmy Page, but he had different plans. Back in the past Beck's sister had Clapton.
He spent just a year and a half with The Yardbirds, but it was enough to reveal himself as an amazing and skilled guitarist, and an innovative one at that. He liked to tweak his tune using heavy distortions and feedback, and his recordings with The yardbirds produced some of the band's greatest tracks of all time, in the album "Yardbirds"
After a short time sharing lead guitar role with Jimmy Page, he decided to quit and make his own band.
Jeff Beck Group
Jeff Beck Group is the name of the band he formed after leaving The Yardbirds, but the truth is that the same name was used for two very different formations to come in following years, all led by Beck, of course.
First "Jeff beck Group" formation consisted of Rod Stewart (vocals), Ronnie Wood (bass), Micky Waller (drums) and Nicky Hopkins (piano). Together they released a couple albums: Truth (1968) and Beck-Ola (1969). Beck and Stewart collabored on three tracks of "Truth"; "Let Me Love You", "Blues Deluxe", and "Rock My Plimsoul". It is regarded as one of the first Heavy albums in history. Beck-Ola on the other hand is a blues-rock album containing five new tracks along with a couple revamped Elvis Presley covers "All Shook Up" and "Jailhouse Rock". At the end of 1969 the group split.
Beck had a nasty car accident which kept him away from stage for a whole year, and after recovering he made a new formation, also named Jeff Beck Group, but this time the line up was Bob Tench on vocals and guitar, Max Middleton on piano/keyboards, and Cozy Powell on drums and Clive Chaman as bassist. They released "Rough and Ready" in 1971, and it was completely different from the previous formation, with no aggresive licks to be found the album was a combination of jazz & soul. In 1972 they released "Jeff Beck Group", again full of Soul and featuring four tracks written by Stevie Wonder.
Beck, Bogert & Appice
After dissolving the first Jeff Beck Group, Beck's intention was to form a new band consisting of Stewart and Vanilla Fudge's bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice. His car accident made it impossible to achieve then, but in 1973 his dream came true. He dissolved his second Jeff Beck Group, and the band "Beck, Bogert & Appice" was born.
The band stayed together for a couple years releasing just one album "Beck, Bogert & Appice" which had good sales and a successful single, a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition". Comparations between Beck, Bogert & Appice and other "famous musician" made bands such as Cream or Jimi Hendrix Experience were not good for the band, and Beck decided to leave while they were recording their second album.
Beck released his first solo album in 1975 "Blow by Blow", produced by famous George Martin (The Beatles). The album is all instrumental fusion jazz, and is Beck's most successful album to date.
Later in 1976 he relased "Wired" along with keyboardist Jan Hammer, producing a more synthesized kind of rock/jazz this time, featuring the famous "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" cover of Charles Mingus. Four years later Beck would release "There and back", but this time Jan Hammer only appeared in three of the eight tracks.
It wasn't until 1985 that he would release a new album, "Flash" produced by Nile Rodgers and including the hit "People Get Ready" with Rod Stewart. One year later Beck received the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Four years later came "Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop" this time with Tony Hymas on keyboards, going back to a more rocky sound, and he received again the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance one year later.
Nine years passed until he got on studio to record a new album called "Who else!", in 1999, in which Beck goes into electronic/rock territory, which was followed by a new album two years later, "You had it Coming", which successfully mixed electronic music with rock once again, with a dance music feel to it. No surprise, as Beck is widely known for his innovation desire, and the neverending search of new sounds and tones out of his guitars. In the same line he released "Jeff" in 1993.
Some of his albums were available only online, like his last, named "Official Bootleg USA'06", which was only released through his official site, as he did back in 2003 after his tour with B.B. King, when he released “Live at B.B. King Blues Club".
Other Collaborations and Activities
In the long years between "Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop" and "Who else!" (1992) Beck had time to record a collaboration with Jed Lieber called "Frankie's House", an instrumental album which served as soundtrack of an Australian TV series. He also found time to record along with Big Town Playboys, releasing "Crazy legs" (1993) as a tribute to Beck's idol Cliff Gallup.
Two recopilatory albums were released in the 90s too: "Beckology" (1991) and "Best of Beck" (1995).
In 1993 he worked with Paul Rodgers on the album "Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters". Beck has appeared with Clapton in "Crossroads", "Further On Up The Road", as well as in Amnesty International & ARMS benefit shows. In 2007 he performed in Clapton's Croosroad Festival. Beck has also taken part in albums from many famous astists such as Brian May, ZZ Top, Cyndi Lauper, Roger Waters, Les Paul, B.B. King, Kelly Clarkson, kate Bush, Mick Jagger and many others.
Style and Influences
Jeff Beck is a guitar virtuoso who moves between different genres such as heavy, rock, jazz fusion & electronic with ease. Among his influences stand Cliff Gallup, Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf, Freddie King, Les Paul, Gene Vincent & Muddy Waters.
His life has been a continued pursuit of the ultimate tone, the unconventional sounds ann the limits of the guitar. In his own words: “Finding ways to use the same guitar people have been using for 50 years to make sounds that no one has heard before is truly what gets me off. I love it when people hear my music but can’t figure out what instrument I’m playing. What a cool compliment.”
His other passion, cars, might be the reason why he hasn't released as many albums in recent years as in the past, and though he never achived such commercial success as other guitarists, Beck remains a figure of cult to many, and is regarded as one of the best guitarists ever.
Jeff Beck usually wields Fender Stratocasters (and a Fender Squire on his early days), though he sometimes can be seen playing Telecasters and Les Pauls too, equipped with .010s or .011s. As for effects he likes to use wah, RAT distortion, Octave doublers and fuzz boxes. He doesn't usually use a pick to play, though he did in his early years.
His choice of amps in his early days were Vox AC 30s, but later he chose Fender Bassmans and Marshall JCM2000 DSL 50s.
Jeff Beck Group
1971 Rough and Ready
1971 Jeff Beck Group
Beck, Bogert & Appice
1973 Beck, Bogert & Appice
1974 Beck, Bogert & Appice Live in Japan
1967 Hi Ho Silver Lining
1967 Tallyman (song)
1967 Love Is Blue
1975 Blow by Blow
1977 Jeff Beck With the Jan Hammer Group Live
1980 There and Back
1989 Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop
1992 Jeff Beck & Jed Leiber - Frankie's House
1999 Who Else!
2001 You Had It Coming
2003 Jeff – 2003
2003 Live at B.B.King Blues Club
2006 Official Bootleg USA'06
Big Town Playboys
Crazy Legs - 1993
Beckology - 1991
Best of Beck - 1995
Originally by Fran