1944 – 2023
Perhaps not a household name outside of guitar music circles but certainly a master of the instrument and held in awe for his melodious, quirky and unique style of imagining and playing guitar. The legendary Jeff Beck a British virtuoso died last month aged 78. His passing leaves a large hole in the hearts of his family, friends and guitar fans worldwide. Certainly my guitar hero, I saw him in concert various times over half a dozen years ago. I was so impressed by what I saw and heard that I followed his videos and his albums until the most recent one last year ‘18’ in which he collaborated with Johhny Depp..
I have his biography ‘Hot Wired Guitar’ by Martin Power and have watched countless videos of his performances over the years, always trying to relive the magic of seeing him live at the Albert Hall and at the O2 in London but it doesn’t come close. There is nobody that could play beautiful melodies like ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ or an operatic theme like ‘Nessun Dorma’ and take it into the sublime territory of melody heaven. A rare thing that no one thought possible with an electric guitar. Guitar greats from across all music genres were falling over themselves to pay tribute to him. He could as easily play Jazz, Blues Rock, Fusion, Hard Rock and even Opera, which he announced as ‘Italian Rock’ when I saw him.
Jeff Beck was the most sought after guitarist that artists wanted on their albums. He was essentially the guitarists’ guitarist. The late great Pavarotti featured him on one of the best known Italian themes ‘Caruso’ on the album ‘Ti Adoro’. Years later Jeff beck was inspired to take on the Opera master by covering his ‘Nesun Dorma’ and Beck’s outstanding rendition of that was for me a spellbinding moment to see from fifteen metres away at the Albert Hall. In the O2 arena London, in a concert that I had seen prior to the Albert Hall show, he was featured with Eric Clapton who is also a fan of the unique guitar style of Beck.
Jeff Beck was inducted into the Rock’n’roll Hall of fame in 1992 with the Yardbirds his first band and again in 2009 as a solo artist. He had eight Grammy awards to his name as well as an extensive catalogue of solo albums and many artist collaborations. From the tributes that came in from all over world after his demise he was it seems, a great human being as well as a very talented one and that is a great legacy to leave behind. I can honestly say that no other musician has touched my soul so deeply as Jeff Beck, may he rest in peace.