The Yardbirds are remembered less for their role in the British blues explosion of the 1960s than for the trio of talented guitar players who emerged from the band. Two of them, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, achieved incredible international celebrity in the years that followed. The third never quite reached the same level of fame.
But Jeff Beck, who turned 69 this week, was arguably the most innovative and talented of the three, even if he never had the same level of commercial success.
Born June 24, 1944, Beck’s Yardbirds year were followed by stints with The Jeff Beck Group, which featured Rod Stewart on vocals, and the power trio of Beck, Bogert & Appice – with Beck, bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, one of the Appice drumming duo of brothers Carmine and Vinny.
But it was Beck’s solo works, “Wired” and “Blow by Blow,” that won him musical acclaim in the industry. What set him apart from the more famous Yardbirds alumn is the blend of musical styles that Beck incorporated in his playing, a blend of blues, rock, jazz and fusion that he molded into a unique style of music.
It also made him a versatile talent, evidenced by the wide range of talented artists who sought him out, from Roger Waters and Mick Jagger, to Morrissey and Tina Turner, to Stanley Clarke and Cyndi Lauper. Beck also collaborated with former bandmate Rod Stewart, Queen’s Brian May, and R&B legend Stevie Wonder.
Now pushing 70, Beck continues to be considered guitar royalty, even if the mainstream acclaim that was showered on Page and Clapton eluded him to some degree. Those in the music biz know what the man has done and continues to do.
Here’s a classic live clip, with musical sensation Tai Wilkenfeld on bass. Enjoy:
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