Are you a fan of Jeff Beck? He turns 77 tomorrow and is this week’s featured artist!
Born Geoffrey Arnold Beck June 24th 1944, he is an English rock guitarist, and one of the three noted guitarists to have played with the Yardbirds (the other two being Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page). Beck also formed the Jeff Beck Group, and with Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, he formed Beck, Bogert & Appice. One of the most influential guitarists in the history of rock music, Jeff Beck has cited his major influences as Les Paul, the Shadows, Cliff Gallup, Ravi Shankar, Roy Buchanan, Chet Atkins, Django Reinhardt, Steve Cropper and Lonnie Mack.
While Beck was not the first rock guitarist to experiment with electronic distortion, he nonetheless helped to redefine the sound and role of the electric guitar in rock music. Beck’s work with the Yardbirds and the Jeff Beck Group’s 1968 album Truth were seminal influences on heavy metal music, which emerged in full force in the early 1970s.
Beck stopped regular use of a pick in the 1980s. He produces a wide variety of sounds by using his thumb to pluck the strings, his ring finger on the volume knob, and his little finger on the vibrato bar of his signature Fender Stratocaster. By plucking a string and then ‘fading in’ the sound with the volume knob he creates a unique sound that can resemble a human voice, among other effects. He frequently uses a wah-wah pedal both live and in the studio. Eric Clapton once said, “With Jeff, it’s all in his hands”. Along with Stratocasters, Beck occasionally plays Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul models as well. His amplifiers are primarily Fender and Marshall.
Much of Beck’s recorded output has been instrumental, with a focus on innovative sound, and his releases have spanned genres ranging from blues rock, hard rock, jazz fusion, and a blend of guitar-rock and electronica. Although he recorded two hit albums (in 1975 and 1976) as a solo act, Beck has not established or maintained the sustained commercial success of many of his contemporaries and bandmates. However, he has recorded with many artists.
He was ranked fifth in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and the magazine, upon whose cover Beck has appeared three times, has described him as “one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock”. He is often called a “guitarist’s guitarist”. Beck has earned wide critical praise and received the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance six times and Best Pop Instrumental Performance once. In 2014 he received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Beck has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: as a member of the Yardbirds (1992) and as a solo artist (2009).
Check below for a live performance from Jeff Beck!
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