Jeff Beck: Tributes Pour in Following Guitar Hero’s Passing

Jeff Beck
(Image credit: Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Jeff Beck's genius touched every guitarist. 

A true master of his instrument, Beck introduced the world to sounds and styles of electric guitar playing that defined the mid-‘60s era and laid the groundwork for the psychedelic rock revolution.

After replacing Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds in 1965 (at the suggestion of Jimmy Page) Beck recorded the fuzz box-pioneering “Heart Full of Soul” single, landing the group a top ten smash on both sides of the pond.

Proving himself the star of the show, the young guitarist started to branch out on a solo career, beginning with the 1966 recording “Beck’s Bolero.” The track was released in 1967 as the B-side to Beck's hit single, “Hi Ho Silver Lining.”

Featuring a mostly uncredited all-star cast that includes Page, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and Keith Moon, “Beck’s Bolero” also made an appearance on Beck's 1968 debut album, Truth.

From the earliest days of his decades-long solo career, Beck has commanded the respect of his peers.

“[Jimi Hendrix]” was fascinated by Jeff Beck’s playing,” said Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. “I have vivid recollections of tip-toeing into Hendrix’s hotel room, and he always had a record player, a giant piece of furniture, in his room. 

"He said: ‘Man, how do you think Jeff Beck is doing this?’ And I said: ‘Well, I can probably imagine Jeff Beck is scratching his head wondering the same about you.’”

In the mid-'70s, Page revealed to Guitar Player that he thought the Yardbirds were at their best when Beck was with them.

"Giorgio Gomelsky [the Yardbird's manager and producer] was good for him because he got him thinking and attempting new things," said the New Yardbirds/Led Zeppelin founder. 

"That's when they started all sorts of departures."

Rod Stewart, who performed in the Jeff Beck Group alongside Ronnie Wood during the late '60s, told Howard Stern in a 2015 broadcast that he thought Beck was "an entrepreneur of the guitar."

Stewart remembers Beck as "the greatest."

Speaking to the BBC's Bob Harris about his tenure in the Jeff Beck Group as a bass player, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood said, "I had a few years that I would never change of playing bass. 

"It gave me a fantastic angle when I went back on the guitar again."

"I think he is the most unique guitar player – and the most devoted, really," Clapton told an interviewer in the late '80s. 

"From what I know of Jeff, he's either fixing his cars or playing guitar – there's no in-between for him.”

Clapton’s Twitter post was short and sweet...

Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley was hired as a session guitarist by Beck in the early '90s and appeared on his Cliff Gallup tribute album Crazy Legs

“Back in the early '90s when we were making the first Portishead record [Dummy] I was playing with Jeff Beck – a massive hero," Utley told Guitarist.

"It was amazing playing with Jeff – his dynamic and power. He was really kind to me and was very into what I was doing." 

Confirmation of Beck's passing arrived yesterday in the form of an official statement from his PR firm:

"On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing. After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss."

Our deepest sympathies go out to his loved ones and fans.

Jeff Beck

(Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Jeff Beck (June 24, 1944 – January 10, 2023) 

Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as GuitaristTotal Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.