Few rock guitarists made such a seismic impact on the medium as Jeff Beck.
The rock legend, who died this week at age 78, was remembered by his peers as a six-string virtuoso and pioneering sound technician. From his early days as a member of the Yardbirds (alongside fellow guitar hero Jimmy Page), Beck was constantly seeking to push past the blues-rock stylings of the day, laying the groundwork for the late-’60s psychedelic movement with his innovative use of feedback, fuzz and distortion. His tenure with the band was brief but incendiary, yielding a handful of Top 10 hits and a standard-bearing, frequently imitated rendition of Tiny Bradshaw’s “Train Kept A-Rollin’.”
Beck’s winning streak continued after he was fired from the Yardbirds, as he released several successful albums as a solo artist, the leader of the Jeff Beck Group and a member of the short-lived supergroup Beck, Bogert & Appice. But as the ’70s wound down, Beck failed to maintain his previous level of popularity. His solo output languished over the next two decades, and he devoted as much time to collecting cars as he did to releasing music.
Through it all, though, Beck remained a master in the eyes of his peers, and he enjoyed a career resuscitation in the ’90s thanks to high-profile collaborations with the likes of Jon Bon Jovi and Roger Waters. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice, first as a member of the Yardbirds and later as a solo artist. And if there were any questions about his technical genius, his seven Grammy wins — six for Best Rock Instrumental Performance and one for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals — should have silenced them.
Revisit some of Beck’s career highlights — from his early days as a Yardbird to his later solo years — in our gallery of Jeff Beck Photos: Highlights From the Guitar Virtuoso’s Career.
Jeff Beck Photos: Highlights From the Guitar Virtuoso’s Career
Few other artists made such a seismic impact on the medium.