“He Swept Us All Aside and Put Us in a Bin”: Jeff Beck On Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix performs in 1967; Jeff Beck pictured with a Gibson Les Paul Standard in 1967.
(Image credit: Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images (Jeff Beck); Peter Timm\ullstein bild via Getty Images (Jimi Hendrix))

From 1968 to 2010, Jeff Beck appeared in Guitar Player more than any other guitar magazine.

Speaking with the guitarist about his 2003 album, Jeff, associate editor Barry Cleveland took a moment to discuss nearly every interviewer’s favorite Beck-related subject: Jimi Hendrix.

The following interview extracts appeared in the September 2003 issue of Guitar Player...

Jimi acknowledged being inspired by your playing and your performance style during your Yardbirds days.

That’s amazing.

And what he did with the Experience was, in some ways, an intensification and extension of Beck’s Yardbirds. How did that affect you at the time?

It was a horrible time, really. Not because of him, but because of the fact that he swept us all aside and put us in a bin. I think that was more the case for us than for the public at large, who were happy to have us all. But I know how it felt having a girl ring up and ask, “Did you hear Jimi Hendrix?”

Jeff Beck during B.B. King and Jeff Beck Perform Together at The Greek Theatre on August 2, 2003 at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California, United States.

Jeff Beck performs at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California in 2003. (Image credit: Michael Schwartz/WireImage)

I was having trouble with relationships and getting by on a little money. It was rough all the time. I knew when I was beat, and I sat back for a year asking myself if I had anything left in me. I had a car tape player as soon as they were available, and I used to cruise around in a Corvette just listening and trying to focus on stuff – trying to figure out what I should do next to stay in the business.

I wanted to be friends with Jimi on a less flippant level, which was difficult to do. We had the perfect opportunity while driving to a jam in upstate New York. The real Jimi was coming out as he was driving, and I thought, This is probably the greatest moment of my life. And then – lo and behold – just as I had become friends with him, the guy went and died.

You were talking about how it was hard seeing others succeed when you weren’t making much money. Several times you have gotten to the edge of greater success, and then, for some reason, not gone ahead. Do you fear success?

Probably. The biggest incident of that type was not playing Woodstock [with the Jeff Beck Group]. We were still breaking ground and doing our homework in bars and small venues, and even without the bad vibes in the band, I didn’t think we could have pulled it off…

I just had to follow my instinct and say, “Right, well, I ain’t doing that.” And obviously Ronnie and Rod had got some scheme up their sleeves in case I buggered off, and in hindsight they did the right thing.