Jeff Beck: Hugely influential British rock guitarist dies aged 78

Jeff Beck: Hugely influential British rock guitarist dies aged 78

Legendary British rock guitarist Jeff Beck has died aged 78, his family has announced, prompting an outpouring of tributes from the music world.

The eight-time Grammy-winning musician rose to prominence with rock band The Yardbirds and went on to have a successful solo career and fronted the Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice.

A statement posted to Twitter and Instagram on Wednesday read: “On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing.

Jeff Beck - In pictures

(PA Wire)
(PA Wire)
British rhythm and blues group The Yardbirds, from left to right; Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar), Keith Relf (vocals, harmonica), Jim McCarty (drums), Jeff Beck (lead guitar) and Paul, or ‘Sam’, Samwell-Smith (bass guitar). (Getty Images)
British rhythm and blues group The Yardbirds, from left to right; Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar), Keith Relf (vocals, harmonica), Jim McCarty (drums), Jeff Beck (lead guitar) and Paul, or ‘Sam’, Samwell-Smith (bass guitar). (Getty Images)
Johnny Depp (right) at the Royal Albert Hall, London, appearing alongside Jeff Beck (PA)
Johnny Depp (right) at the Royal Albert Hall, London, appearing alongside Jeff Beck (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II meets legendary guitarists Jeff Beck (L), Eric Clapton (2nd L), Jimmy Page (C) and Brian May (2nd R) during a reception at Buckingham Palace in London, 1 March 2005 (AFP via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II meets legendary guitarists Jeff Beck (L), Eric Clapton (2nd L), Jimmy Page (C) and Brian May (2nd R) during a reception at Buckingham Palace in London, 1 March 2005 (AFP via Getty Images)
Brian May (L) poses with The Mojo Les Paul Award with Jeff Beck at The MOJO Honours List awards, recognising career-long contributions to popular music, at Shoreditch Town Hall on June 5, 2006 in London (Getty Images)
Brian May (L) poses with The Mojo Les Paul Award with Jeff Beck at The MOJO Honours List awards, recognising career-long contributions to popular music, at Shoreditch Town Hall on June 5, 2006 in London (Getty Images)
British guitarist Jeff Beck performs on the Stravinski hall during the 41st Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland, late Sunday, July 15, 2007 (AP)
British guitarist Jeff Beck performs on the Stravinski hall during the 41st Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland, late Sunday, July 15, 2007 (AP)
Grammy Award winning artists Joss Stone and guitar legend Jeff Beck rehearse for their performance at the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on November 7, 2014 in London (Getty Images)
Grammy Award winning artists Joss Stone and guitar legend Jeff Beck rehearse for their performance at the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on November 7, 2014 in London (Getty Images)
Musicians BB King and Jeff Beck appear on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” at the NBC Studios on July 31, 2003 in Burbank, California (Getty Images)
Musicians BB King and Jeff Beck appear on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” at the NBC Studios on July 31, 2003 in Burbank, California (Getty Images)
(PA Archive)
(PA Archive)
Chris Dreja, guitarist Jeff Beck, and singer Keith Relf (1943 - 1976) of The Yardbirds, outside a music shop in London, 1965 (Getty Images)
Chris Dreja, guitarist Jeff Beck, and singer Keith Relf (1943 - 1976) of The Yardbirds, outside a music shop in London, 1965 (Getty Images)
Jeff Beck poses with Slash (Getty Images)
Jeff Beck poses with Slash (Getty Images)

“After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday.

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“His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”

Trailblazing guitarist Beck was born Geoffrey Arnold Beck in Wallington, England, to parents Arnold and Ethel Beck and developed a passion for music as a child.

Beck made headlines last year when he announced a collaborative album with Johnny Depp shortly after the Hollywood actor’s defamation battle with ex-wife Amber Heard drew to a close.

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The pair first met in 2016 and began recording the album in 2019 while Depp was also playing with Alice Cooper’s supergroup Hollywood Vampires.

Beck was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice – first as a member of The Yardbirds in 1992 and later as a solo artist in 2009.

During the course of his career, he won a total of eight Grammy awards.

Beck wins the Living Legend award at the Classic Rock Roll Of Honour at the Roundhouse in London, in 2011 (PA)
Beck wins the Living Legend award at the Classic Rock Roll Of Honour at the Roundhouse in London, in 2011 (PA)

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons said news of Beck’s death was “heartbreaking”.

In a post on Twitter, the fellow rock star wrote: “Heartbreaking news to report the late, great Jeff Back has sadly passed. No one played guitar like Jeff.

“Please get a hold of the first two Jeff Beck Group albums and behold greatness. RIP.”

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Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi also paid tribute to Beck, writing: “Jeff was such a nice person and an outstanding iconic, genius guitar player - there will never be another Jeff Beck.

“His playing was very special & distinctively brilliant! He will be missed. RIP Jeff”.

Musician Gary Kemp, formerly guitarist for Spandau Ballet, described Beck as “an absolute god of guitar”.

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“No one can replace him,” he wrote on Twitter. “From rock to soul to jazz he was the greatest player in all genres. Unique. Such awful news but thank you Jeff for all you gave us.”

British rock legend Ozzy Osbourne said it had been “such an honour” to know and play with him on his most recent album.

The Black Sabbath frontman said: “I can’t express how saddened I am to hear of @JeffBeckMusic’s passing. What a terrible loss for his family, friends & his many fans.

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“It was such an honor to have known Jeff & an incredible honor to have had him play on my most recent album, #PatientNumber9. Long live #JeffBeck.”

Kiss frontman Paul Stanley also posted a tribute to Beck, describing him as “one of the all time guitar masters”.

Posting a picture of Beck on his Twitter, he wrote: “WOW. What awful news. Jeff Beck, one of the all time guitar masters has died.

Jeff Beck performs on the Stravinski hall during the 41st Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland, in July 2007 (AP)
Jeff Beck performs on the Stravinski hall during the 41st Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland, in July 2007 (AP)

“From The Yardbirds and The Jeff Beck Group on, he blazed a trail impossible to follow. Play on now and forever.”

Genesis lead guitarist Steve Hackett said Beck had been “a powerful influence on myself and many others”.

Hackett wrote on Twitter: “Devastating news about the loss of much loved, influential guitar legend Jeff Beck.

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“He made the electric guitar sing… a powerful influence on myself and many others.”

Dave Davies, of rock band The Kinks, said he was “shocked and bewildered” by Beck’s death, describing the musician as a “great and innovative guitar player”.