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Jeff Beck Biography

Home > Music > B > Beck, Jeff > Biography

Born: 1944/06/24
Birth Place: Wallington, England
Years Active: 1965–present
Genres: Blues-rock, Jazz Fusion, Instrumental Rock, Hard Rock, Electronica

Jeff Beck (born Geoffrey Arnold Beck, June 24, 1944) is an English rock guitarist. He is one of three noted guitarists to have played with The Yardbirds (Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page are the other two). Beck also formed The Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice.

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” b/w “So Sweet.”

In 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 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 U.K., “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 1968’s “Truth” and 1969’s “Beck-Ola.” Resentment, coupled with touring incidents, led the group to dissolve in July 1969.

Much of Beck's subsquently 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 “Blow by Blow” in 1975 and “Wired” in 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 released his tenth solo album, “Emotion & Commotion,” in 2010 on ATCO Records. In addition to featuring vocal performances by Joss Stone, Imelda May and Olivia Safe, the album showcased a 64-piece orchestra on several tracks. The album debuted at #11 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart in the U.S. his highest-ever debut in his 45 year career. The album reached #11 in the U.K. becoming his highest charting album in the U.K. The track "Nessun Dorma" won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

Beck has earned wide critical praise and received the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance six times and Best Pop Instrumental Performance once. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a member of The Yardbirds in 1992 and as a solo artist in 2009.