Guitar icon Jeff Beck has died, aged 78

12 January 2023, 16:35

Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

One of the most influential rock guitarists of all time, Jeff Beck, has died at the age of 78.

British musician Jeff Beck first found fame as part of the Yardbirds when he replaced Eric Clapton. He later formed the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart.

His guitar playing redefined the instrument in the 1960s, and he inspired genres across heavy metal, jazz and punk.

"On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck's passing," a statement said on his official social channels.

"After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss."

Many artists have paid tribute, including Kiss star Gene Simmons, saying: "Heartbreaking news to report the late, great Jeff Back has sadly passed. No one played guitar like Jeff."

Born Geoffrey Arnold Beck, he built his first guitar as a teenager. He quit college to play with Screaming Lord Sutch and the Tridents.

After Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds in 1965, Jimmy Page suggested hiring Beck to replace him. He played on hits including 'I'm A Man' and 'Shapes Of Things', and his use of feedback influenced people such as Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix.

He stayed with the Yardbirds for nearly two years, before announcing he was quitting music, and releasing his first solo single 'Hi Ho Silver Lining'.

Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck in 1984
Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck in 1984. Picture: Getty

This rock exile didn't last long, and by the 1980s he was collaborating with Nile Rodgers and Rod Stewart - earning a Grammy Award.

In 1987, he played on Mick Jagger's solo album Primitive Cool, and worked with artists like Roger Waters and Jon Bon Jovi in the 1990s. He also contributed to Hans Zimmer's soundtrack for the Tom Cruise movie Days Of Thunder.

He continued touring in the 2010s, including a joint-headline show with Beach Boys star Brian Wilson.

By 2022, he had become close to actor Johnny Depp, with whom he released an album.