RIP Jeff Beck

Damn.

Damn indeed.

Holy crap. I’m always surprised by these - Prince, Tom Petty, David Bowie. This feels nuts to me.

I was never much of a fan but could appreciate the talent. Also, way too young. RIP

The first of the Big Three to pass on.

The first two Jeff Beck solo albums (with that incredible backing band with Keith Moon, Nicky Hopkins, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Rod Stewart on vocals) are just aces.

Sadly, I don’t know Jeff Beck’s music. But I did once see him live, unintentionally, and he knocked my socks off.

Shortly after Elliott Smith died, there was a tribute concert here in Los Angeles. A bunch of local acts got up and performed one or two of his songs. Most of them were pretty bad, given that the bands obviously didn’t have time to rehearse the songs, but they were all terrifically heartfelt. Local talent, gathering to mourn in the best way they knew how. It was very touching.

And then near the end of the evening, Jeff Beck comes out and does three Elliott Smith songs as if he’s known them all his life. I wish I could remember what they were. But he played them with energy, precision, affection, as if he’s admired and known them for as long as they’ve existed. He must have been incredibly gifted to channel those songs so adroitly, with so little time to prepare. I still don’t know Jeff Beck’s music, but I’ll always treasure the way he used his talent to honor one of my favorite musicians.

RIP, Beck, and thanks for being there with me to mourn Elliott Smith.

What a loss. As someone who dabbles in electric guitar, I can tell you, no one played like Jeff Beck. No one. His style, so delicate, so emotional, so unique. He rarely played with a pick, and always used the Stratocaster whammy bar to sing out those sweet, sweet notes. He will be missed. RIP.

Just curious. Have you listened to The Yardbirds at all?

I hadn’t seen this video until YouTube recommended it to me today:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNoDSKeCNA4&ab_channel=AuthenticAcoustic

What is Johnny Depp going to do now?

I have not, but I’m happy to change that! Should I just drop an early album into my listening rotation, or is there one in particular you’d recommend?

Their early stuff is raw and vital. So yes. Also there were a lot of musicians that ‘graduated’ from the Yardbirds to other bands.

I would think it might take you through a rabbit hole of great music.

I realize that he gave no shits, but to play right handed on a right handed body with a left handed headstock and to fuck around with A Day in the Life? Dude, shoot lower.

It’s probably fairly well known by now, but in This Is Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest 100% modeled Nigel Tufnel off Jeff Beck. The haircut, the look, and the sort of goofy dimness from a Beck interview he’d seen on Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert…

I saw Jeff Beck at the Winterland in SF, in 1975 probably, with John McGlothlin and the Mahivishnu Orchestra. I really didn’t know any of his music then. I was a late replacement for someone else. I remember that trip for a couple reasons, the show itself, riding from Fresno to SF in the back of a pickup truck with another guy. And the guy driving the truck is now the father of a PGA golfer.

Didn’t the Yardbirds feature three HOF guitarists?

Eric Clapton was the original Yardbirds guitarist, though Jimmy Page did some session work on rhythm guitar on some early Yardbirds sides. Clapton left the band over their more pop-oriented direction, and Jimmy Page was originally going to be his replacement…but couldn’t work out the schedule and contract details and Jeff Beck stepped in. Beck plays on the Yardbirds most pop-friendly – but also most psychedelic latter tracks like “Over Under Sideways Down” and “Shapes of Things”.

Beck and Page were in the band for a span of about six months, I think, then Beck left. About the most significant recording with Beck and Page was “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”. Beck split, and then Page was the only guitarist, and then while trying to tour off the “Happenings” single, the band broke up kind of abruptly.

But…the record company told Page that there was still a contract and money to be made if he could find a bass player, drummer and singer to have a go as the Yardbirds. And Page was doing sessions for the first Jeff Beck solo album and took a shine to the bassist on those songs, John Paul Jones, and mentioned him joining the Yardbirds. And Jonesy mentioned this fab young singer he’d seen, named Robert Plant. And Plant was up for it, and mentioned his fellow Brummie, a drummer named John Bonham. And so the New Yardbirds eventually became Led Zeppelin.

I always liked Beck’s tribute to the late, great Roy Buchanan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiOPvOBd8IA

The Beck and Page era Yardbirds in all their glory, as captured in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHqXWIoYRvA

!

Jeebus, the things I don’t know…