“I Shouldn’t Have Done ‘Blow by Blow’”: Jeff Beck Reveals His Regrets in This Hilarious Interview

Jeff Beck
(Image credit: Andrew Putler/Redferns)

In late 1989, Jeff Beck was on the road with Stevie Ray Vaughan promoting his Grammy-winning Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop album.

During their double-headlining Fire Meets the Fury Tour, Guitar Player got a chance to sit down and catch up with the man himself.

Appearing on the cover of our February 1990 issue, both Stratocaster legends shared the spotlight in a rare dual interview.

Additionally, Beck offered some hilarious insights into his music career – notably, his contempt for the top ten Blow by Blow album (“It just reminds me of flared trousers and double-breasted jackets”) and his regret for having never met Cliff Gallup (“His voice would have satisfied me: ‘Fuck off’ or something.”)

Guitar Player February 1990

(Image credit: Future)

At points in your career, you’ve been drawn to more complex, jazz-based harmony, but several tracks on Guitar Shop are just one-chord grooves.

I was determined not to bore anybody with any jazz. Things like Blow By Blow were just unadulterated jazz, but I didn’t think so at the time.

If you listen to real jazz, like Chick Corea, or experimental high-art rock and roll, which I consider to be John McLaughlin, then it is sort of Muzaky.

I was determined not to bore anybody with any jazz

Jeff Beck

“Fuzak” [drummer] Simon Phillips called it. And when I heard him say fuzak, I went pffft – boxed it up and threw it in a bin.

I guess at that time I wanted some solidification; I had to be playing a tune, not just abstract flurries of noise. There had to be some nice chords to get the listener to draw an ear a bit closer.

But I shouldn’t have done Blow By Blow. I wish I hadn’t done any of them, because they’re just mistakes on record.

Jeff Beck

(Image credit: Robert Knight Archive/Redferns)

I wish I had stayed with earthy rock and roll. I got sucked into…. When you’re surrounded with very musical people like Max Middleton and Clive Chaman, you’re in a prison, and you have to play along with that.

I wasn’t able to direct them against their grain, so that’s what came out.

Do you dislike being perceived as a fusion player because you don’t feel you really are one, or because you don’t like the implication the label carries?

It’s a bad word now.

I wish I had stayed with earthy rock and roll

Jeff Beck

But at the time, it meant a bringing together of musical worlds, and in many ways still does.

Yeah, well that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s like taking a bit of vanilla ice cream and pouring something else over it to cover up the vanilla. You either like vanilla or you don’t.

I mean, you can make it better with chocolate sauce, but it’s not right when you try to put another flavor in.

It’s like lime in your Perrier. I mean, Perrier is Perrier. You’ve got to look for the single elements sometimes.

Jeff Beck, 1977

(Image credit: Paul Natkin/WireImage)

But the same can be said about the marriage of blues and rock.

Yeah. Well, there are some good things on Blow By Blow. It just reminds me of flared trousers and double-breasted jackets.

I didn’t like the ’60s and ’70s basically. I hated them. The mid ’60s were okay, because every day was a hurricane in the Yardbirds and I could afford to look at it with contempt; around me were a lot of things I had nothing to do with, like flower power and awful things like flared trousers.

I didn’t like the ’60s and ’70s basically. I hated them

Jeff Beck

Were there things about the ’80s you felt more drawn to?

I did, because of the revitalizing of things, like punk rock, which I loved and thought was a smack in the eye for the world. It made things a lot more exciting and insecure.

It was getting very stodgy. I was getting so depressed by ’65 because I was 10 years too late to be around the Gene Vincent, Cliff Gallup thing, and I bitterly resent that.

Punk rock was a smack in the eye for the world. It made things a lot more exciting and insecure

Jeff Beck

Did you ever meet Cliff Gallup?

He’s the biggest unsung hero of all time, and then he goes and dies.

No. He didn’t know I existed. The awe I would have been in of him, and he would have been sitting there, wishing he was fishing.

I would have just liked to hear one syllable. His voice would have satisfied me: “Fuck off” or something.

I never even got that, unfortunately.

Browse the Jeff Beck catalog here.