Jeff BeckJeff Beck

Although one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock, didn't gain the commercial success that some of his contemporaries enjoyed. This was probably because he wasn't a singer and also never managed any continuity with a charismic singer. Beck was rather haphazard in his approach to his career and would chop and change, dipping in and out of genres as it took his fancy. However, he did enjoy great respect from his contemporaries. He learned to play the guitar as a teenager. Prior to that, at 10yrs old, he had been singing in a church choir. He attended Wimbledon Art College upon leaving school. He worked at various jobs including painter and decorator and groundsman. He began his career as a guitarist, like many others of the 1960s, as a session musician. Beck was recruited by the Yardbirds after Eric Clapton had left the band to join John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, and this proved fortunate for the band as is was during Jeff Beck's time with the band that they recorded most of their hits. However, his time with the band was a short 18mths, during which they recorded the album Roger the Engineer in 1966. Health reasons and his quick temper were probably the contributing factors to this short stint with the Yardbirds. But Jeff Beck left his mark in his pioneering use of feedback and distorting effects.

Beck's musical associations read like a hall of fame. He went on to record Beck's Bolero with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and Keith Moon. He formed the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart as vocalist, Ron Wood on Bass, Micky Waller on drums and Nicky Hopkins on piano. They recorded two albums 'Truth'and 'Beck-Ola', before breaking up. Beck continued to work with Rod Stewart, and with Bogert and Appice they formed Vanilla Fudge. Unfortunately, Beck suffered head injuries in a car accident and was out of the music scene for about 12 months. It was during this time that Rod Stewart formed the Small Faces. Beck reformed the 'Jeff Beck Group' with different members and a new sound. When Bogert and Appice were again available, Jeff Beck took the opportunity to disband the Jeff Beck Group and hook up with them once again. They worked together for nearly two years and only produced one album, Beck, Bogert & Appice, which wasn't generally well received.

In 1974, Beck began recording 'Blow by Blow' with John Martin as producer. This album was the greatest commercial success for Jeff Beck, and showed off his technical abilities in the jazz-rock genre. Other albums that followed were, 'Wired' and 'There and Back'.

In 1981 he made live appearances with his Yardbirds' buddy, Eric Clapton at the Amnesty International's ' The Secret Policeman's Other Ball' benefit gig. Beck suffered with tinnitus and this is perhaps why his work was rather sporadic in the 80s and 90s. However, there are a number of follow on albums with different artists: 1985 'Flash' with Rod Stewart and Jan Hammer, 1989 'Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop' with Terry Bozzio and Tony Hymas, Crazy Leggs 1993, Who Else 1999, You Had it Coming (2001), for which he won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumentalist Performance for the track 'Dirty Mind'. This was his third Grammy. In 1993 he joined Paul Rodgers of Bad Company in the tribute album to Muddy Waters, 'Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters'. Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck went on to win a forth Grammy for Best Instrumentalist Performance for 'Plan B'. He continued to perform on other artists' albums, including, Cyndi Lauper, Roger Waters, Les Paul, Brian May, Mick Jagger, Jon Bon Jovi & ZZTop.

Recently, he has teamed up with Jason Rebello, Vinnie Colaiuta and Pino Palladino for his 2005 and 2006 tours. In 2007 Beck was appearing at Eric Clapton's 'Crossroads Guitar Festival', where he was introduced by Bill Murray as "my favourite guitarist". It is true to say that Jeff Beck has pioneered the use of several guitar effects that inspired many 'heavy metal' guitarists, but unlike less accomplished musicians he does not rely on electronic effects. As Eric Clapton remarked, "with Jeff it's all in the hands".