Jeff Beck: Sophisticated Guitar Heroe
Like many rock musicians in the early 1960s, Jeff Beck began his career working as a session guitarist. In 1965, following a gig with the Tridents, Beck was recruited to join the Yardbirds (after Eric Clapton had left the group for John Mayall's Bluesbreakers). It was during his tenure with The Yardbirds that they recorded most of their hits. He became known for smashing his guitar on stage, and his guitar-smashing antics can be seen in the 1966 film, Blowup. In 1966, he shared the dual-lead guitar role with Jimmy Page. His time with The Yardbirds was short, allowing Beck only one full album, Roger the Engineer (1966); Beck left after 18 months, partly for health reasons.
While on the surface Beck seems to have departed the group because of his health, Jimmy Page, who had been invited into the band in 1966 by Beck himself, tells a different story:
Beck went on to form a second incarnation of the Jeff Beck Group, which featured Clive Chaman (bass), Max Middleton (keyboards), Cozy Powell (drums), and Bob Tench (vocals). This group took Beck in a new direction with increased levels of sophistication, entailing a varied melding of rock/pop with elements of R&B and jazz. They released two albums: Rough And Ready (1971, produced by Jeff Beck) and The Jeff Beck Group (1972, this produced by Steve Cropper). After this second Jeff Beck Group disbanded in 1972, Beck formed the power trio Beck, Bogert & Appice, with Carmine Appice on drums and Tim Bogert on bass. This group, too, failed to attract much critical attention and soon split up, although they did have a minor hit with a version of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" (Beck had earlier played lead guitar on Wonder's Talking Book album). In 1975, Beck did a solo, all-instrumental jazz fusion album entitled Blow by Blow which received unexpectedly positive critical reviews and substantial sales, reaching number 4 in the U.S. charts. It was followed up by a collaborative effort with former Mahavishnu Orchestra keyboardist Jan Hammer on the 1976 Wired album, which also received critical acclaim.
Labels: Jeff beck