Geoffrey Arnold Beck was born in 1944, in Wallington, England. From the age of 10 he sang in the local church choir and as a teenager learned to play the guitar. Jeff like many other UK kids became fascinated with making guitars as well as playing them. In post war England the electric guitar was a rare commodity because import restrictions from the US prevented them from general sale. The UK guitarists keen on the sound were left to build their own. Jeff’s early heroes were Les Paul, and Cliff Gallup (lead guitarist with Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps).
Later he came under the influence of BB King and Steve Cropper (The MGs).
After leaving school he attended Wimbledon College of Art before working in a series of jobs. During this time, he joined "The Rumbles (1963). His talents were quickly recognized and became a session musician playing guitar on 'I'm Not Running Away' by Fitz and Startz (1964).
His sister introduced him to Jimmy Page who invited him to join the Yardbirds, as a replacement for Eric Clapton.
During 1966 the band had several hit singles but despite this Jeff was keen to pursue other avenues and recorded Beck’s Bolero in 1967.
Fellow musicians on the album were Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and Keith Moon. As a solo artist he had two hit singles in the UK, "Hi Ho Silver Lining" and "Tallyman."
He formed The Jeff Beck Group, with Rod Stewart (vocals), Ronnie Wood (bass), Nicky Hopkins (keyboards) and Micky Waller (drums). The band released two highly acclaimed albums Truth (1968) and Beck-Ola (1969) before breaking up soon after.
Jeff continued to work with other musicians until a serious car accident forced him out of the music business. In 1971 he reformed the Jeff Beck Group with Bobby Tench (guitar and vocals), Max Middleton (keyboards), and Clive Chapman (bass) and they released Rough and Ready.
The second album entitled Jeff Beck Group, was produced by Steve Cropper and released a year later.
A new collaboration followed with bassist Tim Bogert, Max Middleton (vocals), Kim Milford (then later Bobby Trench), and drummer Carmine Appice, and the group continued to tour as Jeff Beck Group. Tench and Middleton left but Beck, Bogert & Appice continued as a trio.
When their album was not well received and the trio dissolved in April 1974. Jeff continued to be in demand as a musician and appeared with many luminaries including David Bowie. His next solo album Blow by Blow was produced by George Martin and released in 1975.
This gave Jeff Beck his most commercially-successful release. Beck was a perfectionist and difficult to work with at times. This caused tension in the studio and on tour. During the mid-seventies he toured the States and jammed with many other musicians at festivals and experimented with jazz rock fusion. Towards the end of the decade Jeff beck became a tax exile and lived in the US. In 1981, he appeared with Clapton at the Secret Policeman’s Ball and other benefit gigs before he took a four year break.
In 1989 he released an instrumental album entitled, Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop.
The guitarist began to be plagued with noise-induced tinnitus which forced him to reduce his workload. He came back to the studio in the 90s and has worked ever since touring and recording.
Worth a listen
Hi ho silver lining (1967)
Beck’s Bolero (1969)
You shook me up (1969)
All shock up (1969)
Freeway Jam (1975)
Still I’m sad (1965)
Heart Full of Soul (1965)
I'm A Man (1965)
Shapes of Things (1966)
Beck, Bogert & Appice
Black cat moan ( 1972)
Oh to love you (1973)