I was 14 when I first heard about Jeff Beck. He played a solo on Rod Stewart’s “Infatuation”. My brother-in-law saw that Beck was planning to tour with Rod to support the 1984 album, “Camouflage”. He was trying to get me to get tickets with him. I was skeptical. At that point, I thought of Rod Stewart as “Do You Think I’m Disco?” and “Young Turks”. I knew nothing of how amazing Rod was prior to disco. Also, I hadn’t even heard Beck play either. I finally saw the video on MTV for Rod’s single. Horrible song. Great solo. It was good enough that I started considering my brother-in-law’s proposal, but by then the mercurial Jeff Beck had dropped off the tour.
Then the single for 1985’s “Flash” dropped. Rod quid pro quo’d and sang on one for Beck, “People Get Ready”. That blew me away. When “Flash” actually came out the rest of the album was very different. It was more Niles Rodgers dance beats, but Wow! the guitar playing was unbelievable. I quickly got up to speed with Jeff’s back catalogue that went from blues to fusion and beyond. Always changing, always growing.
I started playing guitar in 1985 and “Truth” was a sonic Bible for me. I played along with that over and over again. Oddly, 20 years later when I wanted to start singing my own songs, “Truth” again was a Bible, but a vocal one. I still warm up for a gig singing along with that album.
I waited patiently for Jeff to tour. He didn’t come to the states until his “Guitar Shop” album tour that he co-headlined with Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1989. He did not disappoint. That tour in itself was like half of the Mount Rushmore of guitar players descended upon us mere mortals.
Over the years, I’ve probably seen Jeff live 8 or 9 times. He was always brilliant. There are few musicians that I simply implicitly trust to take me somewhere transcendent every single time. Jeff was one of those and he always did.
I admire him. I cherish him. I miss him already. Rest In peace, Jeff.