February 1, 2023

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Jeff Beck, guitarist with a chapter in rock history, dies at 78

Mr. Beck devotes most of the solo album Blow by Blow, recorded in 1974 and released in 1975, on instrumentals inspired by the creativity of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the soaring work of the band’s guitarist, John McLaughlin.

To help capture the feel of that group, Mr. Beck hired producer George Martin, who had overseen Mahavishnu’s “End of the World” album the previous year (which had achieved great fame with the Beatles). Mr. Beck told The New Statesman in 2016 that Mr. Martin provided “a huge pair of wings.”

“Just knowing that someone with such sensitive ears would agree to what was going on,” he said, “you’d fly.”

Mr. Beck’s follow-up album, “Wired”, featured two Mahavishnu players: drummer Narada Michael Walden and keyboardist Jan Hammer, expanding the element of fusion in the music. Mr. Beck later toured with Mr. Hammer’s band, which led to the album “Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live,” which went gold in 1977.

Mr. Hammer was also instrumental in Mr. Beck’s 1980 album, “There & Back,” which went to No. 21 on the Billboard chart. In 1985, Mr. Beck returned to working with the singers for his album “Flash”, on which Mr. Stewart sang a version of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready”. (The video became a hit on MTV.) Another instrumental recording, “Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop”, released in 1989, became his last gold album.

Starting in the 1990s, Mr. Beck began to do great session work, providing solos on albums by Jon Bon Jovi, Roger Waters, Kate Bush, Tina Turner and others. He demonstrated the continuous breadth of his style with his album ‘Emotion & Commotion’ in 2010, which included the record ‘Over the Rainbow’ and Puccini’s album ‘Nessun Dorma’. The latter track won a Grammy, and the album reached No. 11 on Billboard.

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