Pioneering and influential rock guitarist Jeff Beck dies aged 78

The Grammy-winning guitarist rose to prominence with rock band The Yardbirds.

Pioneering and influential rock guitarist Jeff Beck dies aged 78 Getty Images

Rock veteran Jeff Beck has died aged 78, his family has announced.

The Grammy-winning guitarist rose to prominence with rock band The Yardbirds and went on to have a successful solo career and fronted the Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice.

A statement posted to Twitter and Instagram read: “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.”

Trailblazing guitarist Beck was born Geoffrey Arnold Beck in Wallington, England to parents Arnold and Ethel Beck and developed a passion for music as a child.

A chance meeting with musician Jimmy Page led Beck to join the the Yardbirds in 1965 – replacing the band’s former guitarist Eric Clapton.

Beck’s time with the Yardbirds was short, lasting close to two years before he embarked on a solo career.

Beck released his first solo single, Hi Ho Silver Lining, in 1969.

After initially finding limited success as a solo artist, Beck formed The Jeff Beck Group, originally consisting of Rod Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano and Aynsley Dunbar on drums.

Beck made headlines last year when he announced a collaborative album with Johnny Depp shortly after the Hollywood actor’s defamation battle with ex-wife Amber Heard drew to a close.

The pair first met in 2016 and began recording the album in 2019 while Depp was also playing with Alice Cooper’s supergroup Hollywood Vampires.

Beck was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice – first as a member of The Yardbirds in 1992 and later as a solo artist in 2009.

During the course of his career, he won a total of eight Grammy awards – the first in 1985 for his song Escape, which scooped the award for best rock instrumental performance.

A second Grammy came with Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop with Terry Bozzio and Tony Hymas, and a third for Dirty Mind from the You Had It Coming album in 2001.

Beck released Live At Ronnie Scott’s in 2009, which earned him a Grammy for A Day In The Life and he later scooped two additional Grammy awards for his 2010 solo album Emotion & Commotion.

He also one a Grammy for best pop collaboration with vocal for Imagine, his collaboration with Herbie Hancock.

Following the news of Beck’s death, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, members of American rock band Kiss, paid tribute to the star.

Writing on Twitter, Simmons said: “Heartbreaking news to report the late, great Jeff Back has sadly passed. No one played guitar like Jeff. Please get ahold of the first two Jeff Beck Group albums and behold greatness. RIP.”

Stanley said: “WOW. What awful news. Jeff Beck, one of the all time guitar masters has died. From The Yardbirds and The Jeff Beck Group on, he blazed a trail impossible to follow. Play on now and forever. @jeffbeckmusic.”

Throughout his career, Beck played with many big names including Nile Rodgers with whom he collaborated on the album Flash, which contained hit single People Get Ready – a cover of the Curtis Mayfield song with Rod Stewart on lead vocals.

He also played on Mick Jagger’s 1987 album Primitive Cool and later worked with the likes of Roger Waters and Jon Bon Jovi.

Beck also contributed to Hans Zimmer’s score for film Days Of Thunder, starring Tom Cruise.

Beck’s career continued as he spent the 2010s touring extensively, including with former Beach Boys member Brian Wilson.

In 2022 Beck released a full length album, titled 18, with Depp and the pair played a number of live gigs together.

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