Music Community Mourns Acclaimed Guitarist Jeff Beck, Dead at 78

The legendary guitarist is celebrated by his peers
By Madison E. Goldberg
Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the influential rock guitarist Jeff Beck passed away at 78 years old. The Englishman passed at a hospital near his home at Riverhall, his countryside estate in Southern England. His publicist reports that his cause of death was a sudden contraction of bacterial meningitis.

Beck’s most famous contribution was to his band the Yardbirds. He replaced famed blues guitarist Eric Clapton in the group, and quickly rose to the forefront of Britain’s then growing electric blues movement. Beck went on to form his own band, the Jeff Beck Group, which featured then rising talent Rod Stewart. This band’s 1968 debut album, “Truth”, inspired the stylings of a young Jimmy Page, who went on to found Led Zeppelin.

Known for his unique fusion of jazz, funk, and rock, Beck was a pivotal member of several bands and projects. His first solo album, “Blow by Blow”, released in 1975, was a Billboard Top 5 hit upon release. He took an interest in the guitar at a very young age, and even built two of his own guitars when he was only 13 years old. He was raised in Wallington, a town in the borough of Sutton in South London.

Though he did not achieve the same level of notoriety as some of counterparts, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page, he remained well respected by his peers and critics alike. Beck had no regrets about not reaching the same level of fame as some of his peers. He told Rolling Stone in 2018 that “When you look around and see who has made it huge, it’s a really rotten place to be.”

Fans and musicians are mourning the loss of Beck on social media by sharing some of his best performances. Collaborator and frontman of the Rolling Stones Mick Jagger took to Twitter to share this clip from one of their performances together:

Chrissie Hynde, front woman of the Pretenders, expressed that Beck taught many iconic guitarists all that they know. Some commenters even pointed out that Beck’s passing comes exactly six years after David Bowie’s passing, yet another person that he collaborated with.

His former bandmate Jimmy Page complimented Beck’s playing and creativity. The pair played together for several years until Page formed Led Zeppelin in 1968.

This clip of Alice Cooper continues to trend on Twitter for his kind words about the late Jeff Beck. Here, he recounts performing with his band as an opening act for the Yardbirds early in his career.

Jeff Beck also collaborated with close friend Johnny Depp, and it was reported that he was by his bedside at the time he passed. In June 2022, the pair released their album, “18” shortly after Depp’s defamation trial against Amber Heard. Depp and Beck were close personal friends. Fans of the two musicians took to TikTok to showcase the friendship.

@_lovely.depp

Thank you Jeff, thank you for being a wonderful friend to Johnny. We will always love and miss you. Rest easy. #fyp #johnnydepp #jeffbeck #jeffbeckandjohnnydepp #legend

♬ original sound – Nicole🏴‍☠️

Beck’s last body of work was his collaboration with Ozzy Osbourne on his 2022 Grammy-nominated album “Patient Number 9.” He is survived by his wife Sandra Cash, and details on a memorial are forthcoming.