January 11, 2023 was a sad day in the world of music when it was announced that Jeff Beck had passed away.
Beck’s almost 60 years of music will live on through his recordings with The Yardbirds, The Jeff Beck Group, Beck Bogert and Appice, and his solo work. What stands out about Jeff Beck‘s long career is his relevance throughout the decades he was alive. Beck crossed genres and explored different styles without losing his signature musicality and originality.
Over the years like another music icon—David Bowie—Beck experimented with musical styles, including blues, jazz and rockabilly, often bringing in different band members to help him accomplish his musical goals. On what is arguably the greatest guitar instrumental record ever made, Blow by Blow Beck melded rock and fusion jazz with a band that included Max Middleton on keyboards, Richard Bailey on drums, and Phil Chen on bass. Just over a decade later and a couple of records in which he used a collection of musicians to make There & Back and Flash, Beck released Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop in 1989 that featured an entirely new band with Terry Bozio on drums and Tony Hymas on keyboards that delivered a new sound to music fans.
Beck continued to record and tour through the 1990s and 2000s, including his appearances at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads fundraising concerts, which introduced music fans to a new iteration of his solo band that featured Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Jason Rebello on keyboards, and a then 20-year-old bass player, Tal Wilkenfeld.
A year later Beck released a live record called, Jeff Beck Performing this week … Live at Ronnie Scotts. As part of this recording’s release Beck made versions available on CD, DVD and Blu-ray disc, and the Blu-ray version quickly became a go-to for many AV manufacturers demonstrating their newest gear.
Since the release of that landmark live album Jef Beck would go onto release a string of studio and live albums: Emotion & Commotion in 2010, Rock and Roll Party: Honoring Les Paul, Live and Exclusive from the Grammy Museum, Live+, Loud Hailer, Live at the Hollywood Bowl, and 2022’s 18 with Johnny Depp.
In a catalog that spans decades it’s hard to choose five songs that represent Jeff Beck’s career, but here are a handful that showcase the virtuosity of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s career:
- “Shapes of Things” from “Truth” (1968)
- “Beck’s Bolero” from “Truth” co-written by Jimmy Page (1968)
- “Cause we Ended as Lover’s” written as part of a collaboration with Stevie Wonder (1975)
- “Freeway Jam” from “Blow by Blow” (1975)
- “People Get Ready” Rod Stewart provides guest vocals on the song (1985)
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