As a young music journalist, Jeff Beck was on the short list of icons who I really wanted to interview. I knew he had a repuation of being somewhat curmudgeonly so I wasn’t even sure if I really wanted it to happen. But in 1999 he was doing some interviews around his album Who Else!, and I took my shot and to my surprise, was approved.

When I interviewed legendary rockers – particularly ones who have collaborated with a lot of other artists – I would always ask about the different interesting things that they did. In Jeff’s case, I was kind of fascinated by the things he didn’t do. This was a guy who pulled out of Woodstock just days before the legendary 1969 festival, breaking up his amazing band in the process. I didn’t ask about that – I generally avoided Woodstock questions as a rule. But here were some things I needed to know about:

“When your band announced a co-headlining tour with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, fans were told that you guys would do separate sets and then one set together. But you just played one song – ‘Goin’ Down.’ Why didn’t you do more?”

Jeff laughed and chalked it up to his laziness. He said he was just too lazy to rehearse that much. I couldn’t believe it. So I asked about his more recent co-headlining tour with Santana. When I went to the show in New Jersey, Santana said from the stage that he knew that the fans wanted to see him jam with Jeff. He noted that he wanted to as well. But Jeff wouldn’t do it! He kind of laughed and shook his head – almost as if even he didn’t believe some of his own antics – and said, “Same deal.”

So, I wanted to know about the Mick Jagger solo tour of Japan in 1988. Jeff was supposed to be the guitarist in his band and pulled out at the last minute (a hot new guitarist named Joe Satriani filled in). What was up with that? “I had a reason!” he laughed. He had played guitar on both of Mick’s solo albums, She’s The Boss and Primitive Cool. And that was what he wanted to play at the shows. He was OK with doing a few Stones songs, but every day in rehearsals, Mick was ditching more solo songs and adding more Stones numbers. “I’m not Keith Richards’ stand-in,” Jeff told me. I later learned that the Stones asked him to join the band – twice. Both to replace Brian Jones and then Mick Taylor. He turned them down both times. His accountant must have been appalled, but the guy followed his own muse.


What I really wanted to know was: would the original Jeff Beck Group (Beck, Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood) ever do anything again? He laughed, “Maybe!” He was probably surprised that a 20-something was so interested in every aspect of his career. Jeff was really cool about fielding my barrage of questions. I asked him about his collaborations with Roger Waters, Tina Turner and even Jon Bon Jovi. The solo on “Blaze Of Glory” was killer, and you know exactly who it is when you hear it. It’s one of the reasons why he’s your favorite guitar player’s favorite guitar player. In fact, that’s how I got into him.


When I was first getting interested in music and reading every magazine I could find, I noted that Jeff Beck was name-dropped by a lot of guitarists who I loved. An album that was often mentioned was Blow By Blow. I had no idea what it would sound like but I asked for it at the mall’s record store. The cover was a sketch of Beck playing a Gibson Les Paul, so I assumed it would be rocking. I was in for a big surprise. Blow By Blow was Beck’s first of many instrumental albums. More specifically, it was a jazz fusion record. At first, I didn’t get it at all, but I was determined to understand it. Eventually, it became one of my favorites.

The song that got me was “‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers.” I learned that it was a Stevie Wonder song. I marveled at the sad title, and how, even without lyrics, Jeff Beck’s playing conveyed a real sense of a loss that I was too young to even understand. I soon fell for “Freeway Jam,” then the Beatles cover “She’s A Woman” and eventually, the whole album.


A couple of years later in 1985, he released his first album in five years (which was an eternity back then), Flash. It wasn’t really great – except for one song. “People Get Ready,” featuring Rod Stewart would be Jeff’s biggest hit, ever. I’d later learn that it was a cover of a song by the great Curtis Mayfield. And I learned that Beck and Rod had a long history (hey, this was before the internet, you couldn’t just look an artist up and go down a rabbit hole). Apparently, they were in a hard rock band together.



That’s how I learned about the original Jeff Beck Group. 1968’s Truth and 1969’s Beck-ola were hard to find, but I taped a friend’s copies and my mind was blown. I’d read that Led Zeppelin had, at one point, been referred to as “the next Jeff Beck Group.” After I listened to their two albums, I got it. Both albums are flawless, they are essential and if you like hard rock, you need to hear both of them. If you haven’t experienced them yet, I envy you. You’re in for a treat.


I knew he’d been in the Yardbirds, as had Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. But the Yardbirds catalog was one of the messiest in rock history (and still is). And pre-internet, it was intimidating. There were so many titles, which were the legit ones? Eventually, Rhino Records organized it pretty well on a collection called Ultimate! (it’s now out of print, sadly). But on it, you can compare the Clapton, Beck and Page eras. For my money, Jeff’s era was the best and most creative. If you want to check out an amazing record, find yourself Roger The Engineer.


When I started following Jeff Beck’s career in earnest, I realized that this really was a guy who didn’t follow the money. At any time, he could have put together a band of hard rock dudes and played jams from the first Jeff Beck Group and his Yardbirds era. That would have fit in perfectly in the ‘80s, given the popularity of commercial hard rock. Instead, in 1989 he emerged with a sample-heavy electronic music sound with his new band Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop. They were a bass-less trio featuring keyboardist Tony Hymas and former Missing Persons drummer Terry Bozzio. It was really ahead of its time.


That went over pretty well, so of course, he did a complete 180. Four years later, he returned with Crazy Legs, a rockabilly album featuring all Gene Vincent covers… except, of course, for his most popular song “Be Bop-A-Lula.” A record like this might have made sense when the Stray Cats were popular. But nope, he waited until 1993.


Over the next few years, he kept experimenting with combinations of guitar rock and electronic music and often collaborated with some really talented women: bassist Tal Wilkenfeld, guitarist Jennifer Batten and a number of singers including Imelda May, Joss Stone and even Kelly Clarkson (check out their version of Patty Griffin’s “Up To The Mountain”). But some of his greatest moments were his instrumentals: his cover of the Beatles’ “A Day In The Life,” the opera piece “Nessun Dorma” and “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” His final album was a collaboration with Johnny Depp – 2022’s 18 – which featured a lovely instrumental take on the Beach Boys’ “Caroline, No.”


Even as a big fan, I won’t try to tell you that all of his albums are essential… but he never took the easy way out. And he was great up to the end. His last solo album, 2016’s Loud Hailer, was his loud guitar/electronic hybrid. Again, he found a great female singer to collaborate with: Rosie Bones. Check out “Live In the Dark.” More recently, he joined Ozzy Osbourne for two songs on 2022’s Patient Number 9, which was some of his heaviest playing ever.


It’s a shame that his music wasn’t more fully embraced by pop culture, but if you knew, you knew. It’s a bummer that we never got to see him, Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood rock out as the Jeff Beck Group one more time. But maybe fans who saw his shows over the past few years got something even better. They saw a guy in his 70s, still at the top of his game as a guitar player, playing exactly what he wanted to. And isn’t that how all of us should go out?

Jeff Beck: Tributes Pour in Honoring Iconic Guitarist

Jeff Beck suddenly died yesterday (January 10) at the age of 78. His family confirmed in a statement that his cause of death was the result of bacterial meningitis.

Beck’s influence on guitar playing cannot be overstated. He is widely regarded as one of the best guitarists of all time. He is respected by legions of fans, as well as his peers. The love and respect for Beck is evident in how many music legends took to social media to pay tribute to him.

Below are just some of the notable tributes to Beck.

  • Jimmy Page

    “The six stringed Warrior is no longer here for us to admire the spell he could weave around our mortal emotions. Jeff could channel music from the ethereal. His technique unique. His imaginations apparently limitless. Jeff I will miss you along with your millions of fans. Jeff Beck Rest in Peace.”

  • Rod Stewart

    “Jeff Beck was on another planet. He took me and Ronnie Wood to the USA in the late 60s in his band the Jeff Beck Group and we haven’t looked back since. He was one of the few guitarists that when playing live would actually listen to me sing and respond. Jeff, you were the greatest, my man. Thank you for everything. RIP.”

  • Ronnie Wood

    “Now Jeff has gone, I feel like one of my band of brothers has left this world, and I’m going to dearly miss him. I’m sending much sympathy to Sandra, his family, and all who loved him. I want to thank him for all our early days together in Jeff Beck Group, conquering America.”

  • Ozzy Osbourne

    I can’t express how saddened I am to hear of @JeffBeckMusic’s passing. What a terrible loss for his family, friends & his many fans. It was such an honor to have known Jeff & an incredible honor to have had him play on my most recent album, #PatientNumber9. Long live #JeffBeck

  • Tony Iommi

    “I was totally shocked to hear the very sad news of Jeff Beck’s passing. Jeff was such a nice person and an outstanding iconic, genius guitar player – there will never be another Jeff Beck. His playing was very special & distinctively brilliant! He will be missed. RIP Jeff -Tony”

  • Geezer Butler

    “Shocked to hear of the sudden death of Jeff Beck. Truly one of the greats. First time I saw him was in 1966 with the Yardbirds. Brilliant, unique guitarist. RIP.”

  • Mick Jagger

    “With the death of Jeff Beck we have lost a wonderful man and one of the greatest guitar players in the world. We will all miss him so much.”

  • Dave Davies

    “I’m heartbroken. He looked in fine shape to me. Playing great, he was in great shape. I’m shocked and bewildered. Deepest sympathy to his wife, friends, close ones. I’m bewildered. Jeff Beck, it don’t make sense. I don’t get it. He was a good friend and a great guitar player.”

  • Brian May

    “Gutted, so sad, to hear of Jeff’s passing. He was the Guv’nor. He was inimitable, irreplaceable – the absolute pinnacle of guitar playing. And a damn fine human being. I’m sure I will have a lot to say, but right now …. Just lost for words. Bri. #jeffbeck”

  • Steve Vai

    “In the pantheons of guitar players, @jeffbeckofficial was the chosen one. He left us with so much beauty and light in our music world. I can’t imagine the landscape of contemporary guitar playing if he had never been here, but as everything comes and goes in this world, his contribution reshaped our imagination of what the guitar can do forever. Thank you master. You really did it and we so much appreciate you.”

  • Sammy Hagar

    “Absolutely one of my favorite guitarist of all time! The ‘Truth’ album changed my life. As a singer and guitarist, I wanted to be Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart rolled into one— we all did. What a loss. We will all miss Jeff. My love and condolences to his family and loved ones.”

  • Michael Anthony

    “o sad to hear of the passing of Jeff Beck, he was definitely one of a kind. The Truth and Blow by Blow albums are two of my favorites, and definitely influenced me growing up playing music. I was fortunate to jam with Jeff a few times, here is one charity event we played with Billy F Gibbons, and Jimmy Vaughn, what a great night!! RIP, Jeff, you will be greatly missed…”

  • Brian Wilson

    “I’m so sad to hear about Jeff Beck passing. Jeff was a genius guitar player, and me and my band got to see it close up when we toured with him in 2013. One of the highlights we did was ‘Danny Boy’ – we both loved that song. Love & Mercy to Jeff’s family.”

  • David Gilmour

    “I am devastated to hear the news of the death of my friend and hero Jeff Beck, whose music has thrilled and inspired me and countless others for so many years.
    Polly‘s and my thoughts go out to his lovely wife Sandra. He will be forever in our hearts.”

  • Def Leppard (Joe Elliott and Rick Savage)

    “I just heard the news about the passing of one of the greatest guitarists to ever walk the earth … Jeff Beck had it all from his early work with The Yardbirds & Rod Stewart in the Jeff Beck Group right up to his recent work with Johnny Depp & Ozzy … I had the amazing opportunity in 2016 to see him perform with Phil at the Classic Rock awards in Tokyo & share a few sherbets with him afterwards …Much love to his family & fans … I hate January!” – Joe Elliott

    “I’m in absolute shock at the passing of guitar god Jeff Beck. A true legend who inspired so many of us. I loved spending time with him whilst recording in Holland. We were doing Hysteria and he was recording with Mick Jagger on Mick’s first solo album. One of the true originals has departed and will never, ever be replaced.” – Rick Savage

  • Bernie Marsden

    “It’s with great sadness I post this photo. I first saw Jeff when my band opened for the Jeff Beck Group in 1968. After that I soon realised his sheer genius, a genius that continued for all his life. Now he’s gone, the best of the best. I’m devastated.

    I was fortunate that we became quite close, especially when the great drummer Jimmy Copley died in 2017. Jeff produced & played with Jim’s band Upp. We were regular hospital visitors & bonded in our anxieties over our dear friend. Tonight I’m raising a glass to him, Jimmy & Cozy.

    He always warmly welcomed me at his gigs over the years, as interested in my car as he was guitars, he was very funny to hang out with and easy to be around, which is perhaps different to what his image suggested – he loved that. My deep condolences to his wife Sandra.”

  • David Bowie

    “Sad to hear about the passing of guitarist Jeff Beck who died aged 78 on Tuesday after suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis. Our thoughts are with his family who have asked for privacy during this sad time. Jeff is pictured here with David at Les Paul’s 95th Birthday in 2010”

  • Paul Stanley

    “WOW. What awful news. Jeff Beck, one of the all time guitar masters has died. From The Yardbirds and The Jeff Beck Group on, he blazed a trail impossible to follow. Play on now and forever.”

  • Gene Simmons

    “Heartbreaking news to report the late, great Jeff Back has sadly passed. No one played guitar like Jeff. Please get ahold of the first two Jeff Beck Group albums and behold greatness. RIP.”

  • Glenn Hughes

    “Farewell to the King #goat I’m shocked & saddened. There will never be another like you, my old friend. RIP Jeff.”

  • Ann Wilson

    “Travel on, Master Jeff! Find new harmonics. We’ll miss you.”

  • Steve Hackett

    “Devastating news about the loss of much loved, influential guitar legend Jeff Beck. He made the electric guitar sing… a powerful influence on myself and many others.”

  • Mike McCready

    “Saddened to hear Jeff Beck has passed away. I was lucky to see him once and I stood in awe of his genius. Thank you, Jeff, for being amazing to us guitar players…”

  • David Coverdale

    “Oh, My Heart…RIP, Jeff…I miss you already…”

  • Johnny Marr

    “RIP Jeff Beck. A pioneer and one of the all time greats.”

  • William DuVall

    “Just learned of the passing of the great Jeff Beck. One of the brightest and boldest innovators on the electric guitar to ever live. A timeless inspiration. May he rest in peace.”

  • Kathy Valentine

    “OMG this is just horrible. I’m stunned. I’ve been obsessed with Jeff Beck since I was a young teenager”

  • Michael McKean

    “Jeff Beck was like no one else. It wasn’t just skills and soul, he had his own vocabulary. A great musician like this leaves such a void. RIP JB”

  • Bret Michaels

    “My condolences to the family & friends of #JeffBeck. His album ‘Wired’ was a guitar soundtrack of my youth.”

  • Gibson Guitars

    “We are deeply saddened to hear of Jeff Beck’s passing. He was and always will be an inspiration. Our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and fans. Rest easy, Jeff. Thank you for the music.”

  • Michael Des Barres

    “Jeff Beck⁩ was the Picasso of Rock & Roll. Unlike every other guitar player, he created music that literally sounded as if he was an alien,following no rules, no clichés,a true master of the instrument. I am shocked and saddened by his passing RIP Jeff Beck.”

  • LeAnn Rimes

    “so sad to hear of the passing of a legend… my sweet, unique, insanely gifted friend @jeffbeckmusic. what an honor it was to share the stage with you, to create with you… there’s no one like you. #ripjeffbeck #RipLegend #jeffbeck”

  • Rick Springfield

    “The great Jeff Beck has taken his genius and gone home. My guitar idol since age 15. For the uninitiated, check out his amazing work on (where do I begin) Roger Waters ‘Amused to Death’. His gift was impossible to copy and won’t be repeated. Thankful for huge legacy. God speed JB.”

  • Jeff Scott Soto

    “Truly at a loss for words, another hero/pioneer/trailblazer leaves us….RIP to the true legend, the Guv’nor, Jeff Beck!!”