Jeff Beck Dies at 78

Legendary guitarist Jeff Beck died at the age of 78.

Videos by American Songwriter

“It is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing,” a statement from his rep confirms. “After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family asks for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”

Beck was born in Wallington, Surrey. He started his guitar journey in his teens on a homemade model (which he constructed after one of his heroes Les Paul). He long cited the likes of Cliff Gallup, Buddy Guy, and Otis Rush as inspiration.

Beck first rose to fame as part of the English rock group the Yardbirds. The innovative soloist replaced Eric Clapton in 1965. He proliferated the group’s blues roots while re-imagining their pop sound. He departed from the group just a year later in 1966. Despite his short tenure, his influence with the band was pivotal in the ’60s rock scene.

Since that time, he has amassed eight Grammy Awards and has frequently been cited as one the greatest guitarists of all time. He also fronted the Jeff Beck Group and Bec, Bogert & Appice. The Jeff Beck group jump-started the career of Rod Stewart, who would become a solo star soon after the unit called it quits.

He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice. While being acknowledged as a member of the Yardbirds in 1992, the notoriously unpredictable guitarist said in his speech, “They kicked me out…fuck them!” He earned his spot as a solo artist in 2009.

Beck most recently embarked on a tour supporting his collaborative album with Johnny Depp, titled 18. The pair wrapped up the tour last November in Reno, Nevada.

American Songwriter called Beck “brilliant” in a review 18. “Jeff Beck is brilliant as always, his guitar being an elegiac expression of his verve and versatility. The tracks that find him dominating the spotlight, specifically, the instrumental covers of two Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds songs, “Caroline, No” and “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)”—soar with the grace and majesty that’s typified Beck’s efforts for the past 55 years.”

Photo by R. Diamond/Getty Images

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