Legendary guitarist Jeff Beck has died suddenly at the age of 78, a statement from his representatives has confirmed – see tributes from Ozzy Osbourne, Jimmy Page and more below.
“On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing,” the statement read. “After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”
Beck rose to fame with The Yardbirds, whom he joined in 1965, replacing Eric Clapton. Although he remained in the band for only 20 months, the band recorded most of their Top 40 hits with the guitarist, including ‘Over Under Sideways Down’ and ‘Shapes Of Things’.
After making one album with the outfit – 1966’s ‘Roger The Engineer’ – Beck was sacked after consistently going AWOL on tour in the US. After being fired, he formed the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and more.
The Jeff Beck Group released four albums – ‘Truth’ in 1968, ‘Beck-Ola’ in 1969, ‘Rough And Ready’ in 1971, and 1972’s ‘Jeff Beck Group’ – before disbanding in the early ‘70s. However, Stewart and Wood were only present for the first two records and quit the band in 1970 to form the Faces. Beck took a break from the band after being injured in a car accident, but revived it with a new line-up for the last two albums. In 2019, Beck and Stewart reunited on stage at the Hollywood Bowl for what was billed as “their most in-depth concert in over 35 years”.
In 1975, he went solo, recording his first album ‘Blow By Blow’ with The Beatles’ producer George Martin. The record went on to chart in the Top 10 in the US.
Prior to joining The Yardbirds, he also made appearances in bands such as Screaming Lord Sutch And The Savages and Nightshift. Later years saw him collaborate with everyone from Nile Rodgers to Mick Jagger, appearing on the latter’s 1987 solo album ‘Primitive Cool’. Since then, he worked with Roger Waters, Jon Bon Jovi, Imogen Heap, and Ozzy Osbourne. In the 2013, he embarked on a joint tour with the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson with whom he had planned to make an album with, but never materialised.
Beck is often referred to as one of the greatest guitarists of all time and insured his fingers and thumbs for £7million. He helped shape guitar music in the ‘60s and beyond, making his mark on jazz-rock and fusion, rock’n’roll, and more.
Beck was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame twice in his career – once with the Yardbirds in 1992 and again as a solo artist in 2009. Speaking at the latter ceremony, he said: “I play the way I do because it allows me to come up with the sickest sounds possible. That’s the point now, isn’t it? I don’t care about the rules.
“In fact, if I don’t break the rules at least 10 times in every song, then I’m not doing my job properly.”
His 2009 induction was done by Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, who had originally recommended him to join the Yardbirds. “You’d listen to Jeff along the way and you’d say, ‘Wow, he’s getting really good, Jeff’,” Page reflected at the time. “Then you’d listen to him a few years later and he’d just keep getting better and better and better, and he still has all the way through.
“He leaves us mere mortals just wondering and having so much respect for him. Jeff’s whole guitar style is totally unorthodox to the way that anyone was taught and he’s just really developed a whole style of expanding the electric guitar and making it into something with sounds and techniques that are totally unheard of before. That’s just an amazing feat, believe me.”
Page concluded: “He’s done so much for rock and roll, and he always will.”
Over his career, he collected eight Grammys, winning his first in 1985 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for ‘Escape’ and his last three in 2010 for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for ‘Imagine’, Best Pop Instrumental Performance for ‘Nessun Dorma’, and Best Rock Instrumental Performance for ‘Hammerhead’.
Most recently, Beck had embarked on a US tour with Johnny Depp following the pair releasing a collaborative album, ’18’, in July 2022.
Tributes have begun flooding in to Beck following the news of his death. Jimmy Page shared a heartfelt message on Twitter, writing: “The six-stringed Warrior is no longer here for us to admire the spell he could weave around our mortal emotions. Jeff could channel music from the ethereal.
“His technique unique. His imaginations apparently limitless. Jeff I will miss you along with your millions of fans. Jeff Beck Rest in Peace.”
His technique unique. His imaginations apparently limitless. Jeff I will miss you along with your millions of fans. Jeff Beck Rest in Peace.https://t.co/4h1DfXXmWI
— Jimmy Page (@JimmyPage) January 11, 2023
“I can’t express how saddened I am to hear of @JeffBeckMusic’s passing,” Ozzy Osbourne wrote. What a terrible loss for his family, friends & his many fans. It was such an honor to have known Jeff & an incredible honor to have had him play on my most recent album #PatientNumber9.”
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. 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 pic.twitter.com/hG6O9tzfij
— Ozzy Osbourne (@OzzyOsbourne) January 11, 2023
In a statement provided to NME, Alice Cooper added: “When I was 16 years old, The Spiders, who became the original Alice Cooper band, opened for the Yardbirds. That night I experienced the greatest guitar player I had ever heard.
“Half a century later Jeff Beck is still the greatest guitarist, PERIOD – The greatest of all time. He was a friend, and there will NEVER be another Jeff Beck. Ever. ”
KISS’ Gene Simmons called Beck’s death “heartbreaking”, adding: “No one played guitar like Jeff. Please get ahold of the first two Jeff Beck Group albums and behold greatness. RIP.”
Heartbreaking news to report the late, great Jeff Back has sadly passed. No one played guitar like Jeff. Please get ahold of the first two Jeff Beck Group albums and behold greatness. RIP. pic.twitter.com/3qnPOCyhUj
— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) January 11, 2023
Mick Jagger also paid tribute, writing: “With the death of Jeff Beck we have lost a wonderful man and one of the greatest guitar players in the world. We will all miss him so much.”
See more tributes below.
Musically, we were breaking all the rules, it was fantastic, groundbreaking rock ’n’ roll! Listen to the incredible track ‘Plynth’ in his honour. Jeff, I will always love you. God bless 🙏❤️ pic.twitter.com/adJA4FTvVL
— Ronnie Wood (@ronniewood) January 11, 2023
Devastated to hear of the sudden and tragic death of legendary guitarist Jeff Beck. He was loved by everyone in the know; the guitarists guitarist! My condolences to his family & friends RIP. 😢 pic.twitter.com/OcCv1jSNvx
— Paul Young (@PaulYoungParlez) January 11, 2023
An absolute god of guitar. No one can replace him. 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. #jeffBeck @jeffbeckmusic pic.twitter.com/kfeTDaPSdR
— Gary Kemp (@garyjkemp) January 11, 2023
I’m heartbroken he looked in fine shape to me. Playing great he was in great shape. I’m shocked and bewilderedDeepest sympathy to his wife friends close ones I’m bewildered Jeff Beck it don’t make sense I don’t get it. He was a good friend and a great guitar player
— Dave Davies (@davedavieskinks) January 11, 2023
He was a great and innovative guitar player . Jeff Beck
— Dave Davies (@davedavieskinks) January 11, 2023
Devastating news about the loss of much loved, influential guitar legend Jeff Beck. He made the electric guitar sing… a powerful influence on myself and many others.
— Steve Hackett (@HackettOfficial) January 11, 2023
Rest in Peace, Jeff Beck 🖤 pic.twitter.com/CkecJA8gT2
— The Beatles (@BeatlesEarth) January 11, 2023
RIP Jeff Beck. A pioneer and one of the all time greats. #jeffbeck pic.twitter.com/h7bTL3ZaxA
— Johnny Marr (@Johnny_Marr) January 11, 2023
WOW. What awful news. Jeff Beck, one of the all time guitar masters has died. From The Yardbirds and The Jeff Beck Group on, he blazed a trail impossible to follow. Play on now and forever. @jeffbeckmusic pic.twitter.com/8LVeq47wxx
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) January 11, 2023
I was totally shocked to hear the very sad news of Jeff Beck’s passing. 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 -Tony pic.twitter.com/i6BGdqTUKU
— Tony Iommi (@tonyiommi) January 11, 2023
Rest in Peace, Jeff Beck. pic.twitter.com/8T2GdOEi31
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) January 11, 2023
I am devastated to hear the news of the death of my friend and hero Jeff Beck, whose music has thrilled and inspired me and countless others for so many years.
Polly‘s and my thoughts go out to his lovely wife Sandra.
He will be forever in our hearts. pic.twitter.com/369rHU7BCX
— David Gilmour (@davidgilmour) January 11, 2023
so sad to hear of the passing of a legend… my sweet, unique, insanely gifted friend @jeffbeckmusic what an honor it was to share the stage with you, to create with you… there’s no one like you. #ripjeffbeck #RipLegend #jeffbeck
— leann rimes cibrian (@leannrimes) January 11, 2023
RIP Jeff Beck. I’m so sad 😞 #
— Mick Mars (@mrmickmars) January 11, 2023
Rest in peace to the GREATEST off them all: Jeff Beck!!!!
— Bill Burr (@billburr) January 11, 2023
Shocked to hear of the sudden death of Jeff Beck. Truly one of the greats. First time I saw him was in 1966 with the Yardbirds. Brilliant, unique guitarist. RIP pic.twitter.com/qaeJHGJymM
— Geezer Butler (@geezerbutler) January 11, 2023
RIP Jeff Beck ❤️ https://t.co/2slgmEKuwD
— Sleaford Mods (@sleafordmods) January 11, 2023
RIP one of the greats, Jeff Beck 🕊️🌹🎸 The Bruce family would like to extend our sincere love and condolences to @jeffbeckmusic’s family, friends and fans around the world. What an incredible legacy. Here are a couple of photos of Jack and Jeff together, not so long ago ❤️ pic.twitter.com/vq2xnSDOSR
— Jack Bruce (@jackbrucemusic) January 11, 2023
This is a developing story and will be updated