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January 12, 2023

40 Amazing Photographs of a Young Jeff Beck From the 1960s and 1970s

Jeff Beck, one of the most skilled, admired and influential guitarists in rock history, died on January 10, 2023 in a hospital near his home at Riverhall, a rural estate in southern England. He was 78.

Beck’s family confirmed the former Yardbirds guitarist’s death Wednesday. “On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing,” Beck’s family said in a statement. “After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family asks for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”

During the 1960s and ’70s, as either a member of the Yardbirds or as leader of his own bands, Jeff Beck brought a sense of adventure to his playing that helped make the recordings by those groups groundbreaking.

In 1965, when he joined the Yardbirds to replace another guitar hero, Eric Clapton, the group was already one of the defining acts in Britain’s growing electric blues movement. But his stinging licks and darting leads on songs like “Shapes of Things” and “Over Under Sideways Down” added an expansive element to the music that helped signal the emerging psychedelic rock revolution.

Three years later, when Mr. Beck formed his own band, later known as the Jeff Beck Group — along with Rod Stewart, a little-known singer at the time, and the equally obscure Ron Wood on bass — the weight of the music created an early template for heavy metal. Specifically, the band’s 1968 debut, Truth, provided a blueprint that another former guitar colleague from the Yardbirds, Jimmy Page, drew on to found Led Zeppelin several months later.

In 1975, when Beck began his solo career with the Blow by Blow album, he reconfigured the essential formula of that era’s fusion movement, tipping the balance of its influences from jazz to rock and funk, in the process creating a sound that was both startlingly new and highly successful. Blow by Blow became a Billboard Top 5 and, selling a million or more copies, a platinum hit.

Along the way, Beck helped either pioneer or amplify important technical innovations on his instrument. He elaborated the use of distortion and feedback effects, earlier explored by Pete Townshend; intensified the effect of bending notes on the guitar; and widened the range of expression that could be coaxed from devices attached to the guitar like the whammy bar.

Drawing on such techniques, Beck could weaponize his strings to hit like a stun gun or caress them to express what felt like a kiss. His work had humor, too, with licks that could cackle and leads that could tease.

Jeff Beck ranked in the top five of Rolling Stone and other magazine’s list of 100 greatest guitarists. He was often called a “guitarist’s guitarist.” Rolling Stone described him as “one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock.”












































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