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RIP Jeff Beck

A giant on the guitar. First heard Blow by Blow when I was attending Highland Park High School. Became a lifelong fan.

Yes, that's Jimmy Page backing him up on rhythm guitar.

Jeff Beck, Legendary Guitarist, Dies at 78

The two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee influenced generations

Jeff Beck died Tuesday after suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis.

By Neil Shah, WSJ

Updated Jan. 11, 2023 8:16 pm ET

Jeff Beck, one of rock’s most influential lead guitarists, whose aggressive, adventurous, innovative style helped mold blues rock, psychedelia, heavy metal and jazz rock, has died at age 78.

The British guitar virtuoso, who was known both as a member of the Yardbirds and as founder of his own band, the Jeff Beck Group, died Tuesday after suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, according to a statement from his family on Wednesday. Mr. Beck had recently completed a U.S. tour.

An eight-time Grammy Award winner, Mr. Beck was considered a guitarist’s guitarist. He started off with the Yardbirds in 1965, replacing Eric Clapton as lead guitarist for a brief time. In 1967, he formed his own loud, heavy-rock band, the Jeff Beck Group, which included singer Rod Stewart, Ron Wood and (eventually) Nicky Hopkins; their sound helped shape 1970s heavy metal. This incarnation of the group released two highly regarded albums, 1968’s “Truth” and 1969’s “Beck-Ola,” and toured the U.S.

In the 1970s, Beck worked with different groups, honing a genre-bending, jazz-rock fusion attack, including on albums like 1975’s acclaimed instrumental record “Blow by Blow.” For decades onwards, he combined his own work with frequent appearances on the recordings of other musicians like Mick Jagger, Roger Waters and Jon Bon Jovi. Last year, he released a collaborative album with Johnny Depp, “18.”

Beck, who was born on June 24, 1944, in Surrey, England, and attended Wimbledon Art College in London, was a longtime car aficionado. He is a two-time inductee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—as a member of the Yardbirds in 1992 and as a solo artist in 2009. His albums have sold 2.4 million copies in the U.S. since 1991, when reliable, computerized data became available, according to Luminate, formerly Nielsen Music.

An outpouring of musicians including Mr. Jagger, Brian Wilson, Eric Clapton, Living Colour’s Vernon Reid and Kathy Valentine of the Go-Go’s on Wednesday celebrated Beck’s musical contributions, which have been foundational texts for generations of guitarists, from Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page to Guns N’ Roses’ Slash.

“The six-stringed Warrior is no longer here for us to admire the spell he could weave around our mortal emotions,” Mr. Page wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Jeff could channel music from the ethereal.”

Mr. Beck “took me and Ronnie Wood to the U.S.A.,” Rod Stewart posted on Twitter. “We haven’t looked back since.”

“Now [that] Jeff has gone, I feel like one of my band of brothers has left this world,” Mr. Wood wrote. “I’m going to dearly miss him.”

Write to Neil Shah at

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