Jeff Beck, legendary rock guitarist, dies aged 78

Jeff Beck, one of the most celebrated rock guitarists in history, who rose to fame with the Yardbirds, has died at the age of 78.

Jeff Beck

“It is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing,” a statement written on behalf of his family and shared on Twitter reads. “After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. 

“His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”

In a career spanning six decades, the British musician became one of the most influential guitarists of all time, first rising to prominence with the Yardbirds who were looking to replace Eric Clapton. Beck was recommended to the 60s rock band by Jimmy Page and played his first gig with them just two days after Clapton’s departure.

Jeff Beck the Yardbirds

Known for his improvising, exploration of fuzz tone and use of feedback and fuzz, Beck redefined guitar music of the ‘60s and has been deemed a key influence among movements like heavy metal, punk and jazz-rock.

In January 1967, he formed The Jeff Beck Group alongside Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, whose emphasis on rhythm and blues and rock similarly played a major influence on popular music. 

In total, Beck won eight Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: once with the Yardbirds in 1992 and again in 2009, as a solo artist. Rolling Stone magazine once ranked him the fifth greatest guitar player in history. 

With such a prominence among rock history, Beck famously insured his fingers and thumbs for £7 million (£700,000 each), after once accidentally slicing the top of one digit at home.

More recently, Beck completed a tour supporting his album with Johnny Depp, 18, which was released in July last year.

Upon hearing the news of his passing, tributes from other leading rock artists have been increasingly paid. 

Kiss Gene Simmons, for instance, wrote: “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.”

Ozzy Osborne, meanwhile, added: “I can’t express how saddened I am to hear of JeffBeck’s passing. What a terrible loss for his family, friends & his many fans. It was such an honor to have known Jeff & an incredible honor to have had him play on my most recent album, #PatientNumber9. Long live Jeff Beck.”

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