Jeff Beck

Now there’s a supergroup we’d loved to have seen.

Hearing Beck’s Bolero end the Today radio 4 news programme the other day, followed by the time pips, was surreal. My personal list of favourite British rock guitarists has just lost another name. For the first decade of this century Jeff Beck was top of that list, the minute he walked into the techno arena and took it apart with Who Else in fact, one of my most played records ever.

What I also liked with Jeff B. was that he just enjoyed trying things (how many recall him working on The Comic Strip Presents for example), then cleared off back to tinker with his cars. Playing was always top notch, even when the material itself didn’t always connect to me (I gave away that terrible Loud Hailer album, and the less said about working with Depp the better). But when it did…

I first saw him with BB&A in the 70s, urged on by my brother (who was learning guitar, it’s a wonder he carried on after that, and we got their autographs too). Beck was sometimes far too deferential on stage for me, and would let guests take over a set (as we saw some years ago with Jan Hammer). But the utterly incredible Guitar Shop tour remains one of my best live gig experiences. Ever.

And Purple wise he was one of the few players Blackmore admired and looked up to, witness the Yardbirds cover on the first Rainbow album (though I am not sure what this single was featuring him, Beck and produced by Page that Blackmore mentioned in his tribute was – the experts suggest it remains unreleased). Years later Ritchie remembered a chat he’d with Jeff wanting to know what he thought of new kid on the block, Jimi Hendrix, and the reply that his playing hit you ‘Straight Between the Eyes’ stuck with him. Beck turned up to watch Purple Mk 3’s London debut too, much to Ritchie’s mortification as there were tech issues with his equipment. And of course Cozy Powell had worked with The Jeff Beck Group for several years in the very early Seventies which Ritchie didn’t forget.
Coverdale was even quicker to twitter his thoughts, and as some have pointed out to me, all three of his ‘how to move on without Ritchie’ list are now no more.
Beck was voted #5 of all time greatest guitarists ever by Rolling Stone, and said something along the lines of: “#5?! Well, then I’m off to the garden to play with Blackmore”. Blackmore had been voted at number 50…

Funnily enough, the first disc I turned to by way of a personal listening tribute was Donovan’s vintage Goo Goo Barabajagal, where Beck just bubbles along with such menace…

Thanks to everyone who chipped in on this.


2 Responses to “Jeff Beck”

  1. Clive G Bindley Says:

    A super group consisting of 2 lead guitarists and one drummer. No vocalist or bass player How would that work exactly??

    • simon robinson Says:

      Well to be fair Beck did tour as a trio with no singer. And casting back, Hardin and (Pete) York toured Germany as a duo back in the 70s!

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