Much of Beck's recorded output has been instrumental, with a focus on innovative sound and his releases have spanned genres ranging from blues-rock, heavy metal, jazz fusion and most recently, an additional blend of guitar-rock and electronica. Although he recorded two hit albums (in 1975 and 1976) as a solo act, Beck has not established or maintained a broad following or the sustained commercial success of many of his collaborators and bandmates. Beck appears on albums by Mick Jagger, Kate Bush, Roger Waters, Stevie Wonder, Les Paul, Zucchero, Cyndi Lauper, Brian May and ZZ Top. In 1988, he made a cameo appearance in the movie Twins.
He was ranked 14th in Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and the magazine has described him as "one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock". He was also ranked second greatest rock guitarist of all time in Digital Dream Door, a site that ranks movies and music. MSNBC has called him a "guitarist's guitarist". Beck has earned wide critical praise and received the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance six times. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: as a member of The Yardbirds (1992) and as a solo artist (2009).
Beck was born in 1944 to Arnold and Ethel Beck at 206 Demesne Road, Wallington, England. As a ten year old Beck sang in a church choir. As a teenager he learned to play a borrowed guitar and made several attempts to build his own instrument, first by gluing and bolting together cigar boxes for the body and an unsanded fence-post for the neck with model aircraft control-lines and frets simply painted on. When fabricating a neck for his next try he attempted to use measurements for a bass guitar.
Beck has cited Les Paul as the first electric guitar player who impressed him. Cliff Gallup, lead guitarist with Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps was an early musical influence, followed by B.B. King and Steve Cropper.
Upon leaving school he attended Wimbledon College of Art, after which he was briefly employed as a painter and decorator, a groundsman on a golf course and a car paint-sprayer. Beck's sister introduced him to Jimmy Page when both were teenagers.
Beck began his career in the 1960s. He joined "The Rumbles" a Croydon band in 1963 for a short period as lead guitarist, playing Gene Vincent and Buddy Holly songs, displaying a talent for mimicking guitar styles. His first appearance on vinyl was as a session guitarist on a 1964 Parlophone single by The Fitz and Startz entitled 'I'm Not Running Away' c/w 'So Sweet'.
In March 1965 Beck was recruited by The Yardbirds to replace Eric Clapton on the recommendation of fellow session man Jimmy Page, who had been their initial choice. The Yardbirds recorded most of their Top 40 hit songs during Beck's time with the band, which was short (but significant), allowing him only one full album, Yardbirds which became known as Roger the Engineer, released in 1966. From September to November 1966 he shared lead guitar duties with Page, who initially joined as bass player in June of that year.
In February 1967, after recording the one-off "Beck's Bolero" (with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and Keith Moon) and two solo hit singles in the UK, "Hi Ho Silver Lining" and "Tallyman", Beck formed The Jeff Beck Group, which featured Rod Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano and, after a series of drummers, eventually Micky Waller.
The group produced two albums for Columbia Records (Epic in the US): Truth (August 1968) and Beck-Ola (July 1969). Truth, released five months before the first Led Zeppelin album, features "You Shook Me", a song written and first recorded by Willie Dixon that was also covered on the Led Zeppelin debut. It sold well (reaching number 15 on the Billboard charts). Beck-Ola, while well-received, saw drummer Micky Waller replaced by Tony Newman, and was less successful both commercially and critically. Resentment, coupled with touring incidents, led the group to dissolve in July 1969.
Nick Mason recalls in his autobiography that during 1967 Pink Floyd had wanted to recruit Beck to be their guitarist after the departure of Syd Barrett but "None of us had the nerve to ask him".
After the break-up of his group Beck took part in the Music From Free Creek "super session" project, billed as "A.N. Other" and contributed lead guitar on four songs, including one co-written by him. Next he teamed up with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, the rhythm section of Vanilla Fudge in September 1969, when Bogert and Appice came to England to resolve contractual issues, but when Beck fractured his skull in a car accident near Maidstone in December the plan was postponed for two-and-a-half years, during which time Bogert and Appice formed Cactus. Beck later remarked on the 1960s period of his life: "Everyone thinks of the 1960s as something they really weren't. It was the frustration period of my life. The electronic equipment just wasn't up to the sounds I had in my head.
In 1970, when Beck had regained his health, he set about forming a band with drummer Cozy Powell. Beck, Powell and producer Mickie Most flew to the US and recorded several tracks at Motown Studios with Motown session men, but the results remained unreleased. By April 1971 Beck had completed the line-up of this new group with guitarist/vocalist Bobby Tench, keyboard player Max Middleton and bassist Clive Chaman. The new band performed as the "Jeff Beck Group" but had a substantially different sound from the first line-up. Rough and Ready (October 1971), the first album they recorded, on which Beck wrote or co-wrote six of the album's seven tracks (the exception being written by Middleton), included elements of soul, rhythm-and-blues and jazz, foreshadowing the direction Beck's music would take later in the decade.
A second album Jeff Beck Group (July 1972) was recorded at TMI studios in Memphis, Tennessee with the same personnel. Beck employed Steve Cropper as producer and the album displayed a strong soul influence, five of the nine tracks being covers of songs by American artists. One, "I Got To Have A Song", was the first of four Stevie Wonder compositions covered by Beck. Shortly after the release of the Jeff Beck Group album the band was dissolved and Beck's management put out the statement that: "The fusion of the musical styles of the various members has been successful within the terms of individual musicians, but they didn't feel it had led to the creation of a new musical style with the strength they had originally sought."
Beck then started collaborating with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, who became available following the demise of Cactus but continued touring as Jeff Beck Group in August 1972, to fulfil contractual obligations with his promoter, with a line-up including Bogert, Appice, Max Middleton and vocalist Kim Milford. After six appearances Milford was replaced by Bobby Tench, who was flown in from the UK for the Arie Crown Theatre Chicago performance and the rest of the tour, which concluded at the Paramount North West Theatre, Seattle. After the tour Tench and Middleton left the band and the power trio Beck, Bogert & Appice appeared: Appice took on the role of vocalist with Bogert and Beck contributing occasionally. They were included on the bill for Rock at The Oval in September 1972, still as the "Jeff Beck Group", which marked the start of a tour schedule of UK, the Netherlands and Germany. Another US tour began in October 1972, starting at the Hollywood Sportatorium Florida and concluding on 11 November 1972 at The Warehouse, New Orleans. In April 1973 the album Beck, Bogert & Appice was released (on Epic Records). While critics acknowledged the band's instrumental prowess the album was not commercially well received except for its cover of Stevie Wonder's hit "Superstition".
On 3 July 1973 Beck joined David Bowie on-stage to perform "The Jean Genie"/"Love Me Do" and "Around and Around". The show was recorded and filmed but none of the released editions included Beck. During October 1973 Beck recorded tracks for Michael Fennelly's album Lane Changer and attended sessions with Hummingbird, a band derived from The Jeff Beck Group, but did not to contribute to their eponymous first album
Early in January 1974 the band played at the Rainbow Theatre, as part of a European tour. The concert was broadcast in full on the US show Rock Around the World in September of the same year. This last recorded work by the band previewed material intended for a second studio album, included on the bootleg At Last Rainbow. The tracks Blues Deluxe and BBA Boogie from this concert were later included on the Jeff Beck compilation Beckology (1991). Beck, Bogert & Appice dissolved in April 1974 before their second studio album (produced by Jimmy Miller) was finished. Their live album Beck, Bogert & Appice Live in Japan, recorded during their 1973 tour of Japan, was not released until February 1975 by Epic/Sony.
After a few months Beck entered Underhill Studio and met with the group Upp, whom he recruited as backing band for his appearance on the BBC TV programme Guitar Workshop in August 1974. Beck produced and played on their self-titled debut album and their second album This Way Upp, though his contributions to the second album went uncredited. In October Beck began to record instrumentals at AIR Studios with Max Middleton, bassist Phil Chen and drummer Richard Bailey, using George Martin as producer and arranger. Blow by Blow (March 1975) evolved from these sessions and showcased Beck's technical prowess in jazz-rock. The album reached number four in the charts and is Beck's most commercially-successful release. Beck, fastidious about overdubs and often dissatisfied with his solos, often returned to AIR Studios until he was satisfied. A couple of months after the sessions had finished Martin received a telephone call from Beck, who wanted to record a solo section again. Bemused, Martin replied: "I'm sorry, Jeff, but the record is in the shops!".
Beck put together a live band for a US tour, preceded by a small and unannounced gig at The Newlands Tavern in Peckham, London. He toured through April and May 1975, mostly supporting the Mahavishnu Orchestra, retaining Max Middleton on keyboards but with the new rhythm section of Wilbur Bascomb (bass) and noted session drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie. In a May 1975 show in Cleveland, Ohio (Music Hall), he became frustrated with an early version of a "talk box" he used on his arrangement of The Beatles "She's A Woman," and after breaking a string, tossed his legendary Yardbirds-era Stratocaster off the stage. He did the same with the talk box and finished the show playing a Les Paul and without the box. During this tour he performed at Yuya Uchida's "World Rock Festival," playing a total of eight songs with Purdie. In addition he performed a guitar and drum instrumental with Johnny Yoshinaga and, at the end of the festival, joined in a live jam with bassist Felix Pappalardi of Mountain and vocalist Akira "Joe" Yamanaka from the Flower Travellin' Band. Only his set with Purdie was recorded and released.
He returned to the studio and recorded Wired (1976), which paired the drummer and composer Narada Michael Walden and keyboardist Jan Hammer. The album used a jazz-rock fusion style which sounded similar to the work of his two collaborators. To promote the album, Beck joined forces with the Jan Hammer Group, playing a show supporting Alvin Lee at The Roundhouse in May 1976, before embarking on a seven-month long world tour. This resulted in the live album Jeff Beck with The Jan Hammer Group - Live (1977).
At this point, Beck was a tax exile and took up residency in the US, remaining there until his return to the UK in the autumn of 1977. In the spring of 1978, he began rehearsing with bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Gerry Brown towards a projected appearance at the Knebworth Festival, but this was cancelled after Brown dropped out. Beck toured Japan for three weeks in November 1978 with an ad-hoc group consisting of Clarke and newcomers Tony Hymas (keyboards) and Simon Phillips (drums) from Jack Bruce's band. Work then began on a new studio album at The Who's Ramport Studios in London and continued sporadically throughout 1979, resulting in There and Back in June 1980. It featured three tracks composed and recorded with Jan Hammer, while five were written with Hymas. Stanley Clarke was replaced by Mo Foster on bass, both on the album and the subsequent tours. Its release was followed by extensive touring in the USA, Japan and the UK.
In 1981 Beck made a series of historic live appearances with his Yardbirds predecessor Eric Clapton at the Amnesty International-sponsored benefit concerts dubbed The Secret Policeman's Other Ball shows. He appeared with Clapton on "Crossroads", "Further On Up The Road", and his own arrangement of Stevie Wonder's "Cause We've Ended As Lovers". Beck also featured prominently in an all-star band finale performance of "I Shall Be Released" with Clapton, Sting, Phil Collins, Donovan and Bob Geldof. Beck's contributions were seen and heard in the resulting album and film, both of which achieved worldwide success in 1982. Another benefit show, the ARMS Concert for Multiple Sclerosis featured a jam with Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. They performed "Tulsa Time" and "Layla". This is the only time all of the Yardbirds lead guitarists appeared on stage together.
In 1985 Beck released Flash, featurng a variety of vocalists, but most notably former bandmate Rod Stewart on a rendition of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready".
After a four year break, Jeff made a return to instrumental music with the album Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop (1989), the first album to feature Beck as a fingerstyle guitarist, leaving the plectrum playing style. It was only his 3rd album to be released in the 1980s. Much of Beck's sparse and sporadic recording schedule was due in part to a long battle with noise-induced tinnitus.
Geoffrey Arnold ("Jeff") Beck (nacido el 24 de junio de 1944 en Wallington, Gran Londres, Reino Unido) es un guitarrista inglés de rock/blues que ha tocado en varias bandas influyentes en las décadas de los 60s y los 70s.
Es uno de los tres notables guitarristas que tocaron en The Yardbirds, siendo Eric Clapton y Jimmy Page los otros dos. Durante 25 años ha mantenido una esporádica carrera en solitario. A pesar de no haber alcanzado nunca la proyección comercial de sus contemporáneos, Beck ha tenido un gran reconocimiento, especialmente en la comunidad de guitarristas. Nunca nadie le ha encasillado en un género, Beck ha experimentado con blues rock, heavy metal y jazz fusion y actualmente ha absorbido influencias del techno, creando una innovadora mezcla de música heavy metal y música electrónica.