Home LifestyleEntertainment British guitar legend Jeff Beck dies at 78

British guitar legend Jeff Beck dies at 78

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

The cause was bacterial meningitis, Melissa Dragich, his publicist, said.

During the 1960s and ’70s, as either a member of the Yardbirds or as leader of his own bands, Mr. 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.

A black and white photo of four young men sitting on the floor in front of a white wall.

In 1975, when Mr. 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, Mr. 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, Mr. 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.

To his fans, and to himself, Mr. Beck was so deeply identified with his guitar — particularly the Fender Stratocaster — that he seemed inseparable from it.

“My Strat is another arm,” he told Music Radar. “I’ve welded myself to that. Or it’s welded itself to me, one or the other.”

TYT Newsroom

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