Few rock guitarists made such a seismic impact on the medium as Jeff Beck.
The rock legend, who died this week aged 78, was remembered of his peers as a six-string virtuoso and pioneering sound engineer. From his early days as a member of Yardbirds (along with another guitar hero Jimmy Page), Beck constantly sought to push past the blues-rock styles of the day, laying the groundwork for the psychedelic movement of the late ’60s with his innovative use of feedback, fuzz, and distortion. His tenure with the band was short but exciting, producing a handful of Top 10 hits and a standard-bearer, oft-imitated rendition of Tiny Bradshaw’s “Train Kept A-Rollin’.”
Beck’s winning streak continued after he was fired from the Yardbirds, when he released several successful albums as a solo artist, leader of the Jeff Beck Group and member of the short-lived supergroup Beck, Bogert & Appice. However, as the 70s ended, Beck failed to maintain his previous level of popularity. His solo output waned over the next two decades, and he spent as much time collecting cars as he did releasing music.
Through it all, however, Beck remained a champion in the eyes of his peers, enjoying a career revival in the 90s thanks to high-profile collaborations with the likes of Jon Bon Jovi and Roger Waters. He was admitted to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice, first as a member of the Yardbirds and later as a solo artist. And if there were any questions about his technical genius, his seven Grammy wins — six for best rock instrumental performance and one for best pop collaboration with vocals — should have silenced them.
Revisit some of Beck’s career highlights—from his early days as the Yardbird to his later solo years—in our gallery of Jeff Beck photos: Highlights of the guitar virtuoso’s career.
Jeff Beck Photos: Highlights of the guitar virtuoso’s career
Few other artists made such a seismic impact on the medium.