3 Times Jeff Beck Did Things His Way
Jeff Beck was a one-of-a-kind rock and roll figure who found success with The Yardbirds, his solo career, and countless collaborations.
The music world recently lost Jeff Beck, and tributes to his groundbreaking guitar work began to pour in on social media as soon as the news hit the internet.
Beck’s guitar tones and approach to different musical styles were extremely influential. His work with the Yardbirds and his early solo material in the 1960s featured feedback and distortion that laid the groundwork for psychedelic music and heavy metal. His mid-’70s albums, Blow By Blow and Wired, flipped the script and proved that he was also a master of jazz-rock fusion. Contributions to seminal albums from Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, and Roger Waters helped establish Jeff Beck as a “guitarist’s guitarist” that could easily adapt to — and shape — any style he worked in.
However, Beck’s brilliance came with a few eccentricities. He was fired from The Yardbirds during a tour for not showing up to multiple concerts. He also gained a reputation for having a temper. Even though he could be difficult to work with, these quirks were part of Jeff Beck’s journey as he ascended to the level of guitar god.
In his musical performances and in his personal life, Jeff Beck did things his way. The crazy stories he left behind are almost as legendary as his music. Below, you’ll find three moments where Jeff Beck was a wild card and cemented his legacy as a one-of-a-kind musician.
He broke up his band on the eve of Woodstock because of a rumor
According to accounts from bandmate Rod Stewart, The Jeff Beck Group was all set to play Woodstock, but Jeff Beck pulled one of his famous disappearing acts. The band was staying at a hotel near JFK Airport in New York, waiting until they could play Woodstock and fly back to England.
However, Jeff Beck had other plans and boarded an earlier flight home because he heard a rumor that his wife was having an affair with their gardener. The rumor proved to be false and all Jeff Beck had to show for it was a dissolved band, a strained marriage, and the regret of canceling an appearance at what became one of the most famous music festivals of all time.
Even though the pressure of touring and the Woodstock incident ultimately caused the band to break up, they were able to release two memorable albums: Truth and Beck-Ola. Truth is one of Jeff Beck’s most popular releases among the Discogs Community and still stands as a crowning achievement for everyone involved.
Members of the group went on to find success in bands like Faces and The Rolling Stones. After recovering from a car accident later that year, Beck eventually collaborated with the rhythm section of Vanilla Fudge for the Beck, Bogert & Appice album. Who knows what would have happened if the Jeff Beck Group played Woodstock, but for members like Ronnie Wood, things ended up working out pretty well.
He turned down an offer to join The Rolling Stones
In 1975, The Rolling Stones were in need of a new guitarist after Mick Taylor exited the group the previous year. As they were recording their 13th album, Black and Blue, The Stones invited different musicians to the studio so they could audition for the band.
After being informed that he was there to audition and that all other candidates were told to take a hike, Jeff Beck decided that it was in his best interest to turn down the gig.
According to Beck, he barely saw The Rolling Stones and only played three chords over the two days he was in the studio. He found their working environment to be dysfunctional and could already picture him and Keith Richards getting into arguments.
Jeff Beck recommended Ronnie Wood for the gig and the rest is history.
This also provided Beck with the opportunity to follow through with his prior commitment and record with Beatles producer George Martin. The end result of those sessions was the landmark album Blow By Blow.
He let The Yardbirds have it during an acceptance speech
In 1992, The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. During the acceptance speech, Jeff Beck decided to remind the crowd that The Yardbirds kicked him out in 1966.
If you pull up the video online, you’ll hear Jeff Beck sarcastically tell the crowd that he has made music after The Yardbirds and say that he is supposed to be proud, but he isn’t because he was kicked out of the band. The crowd doesn’t seem to know how to respond until Beck exclaims “F— them!” and everyone erupts in nervous laughter.
Whether he was joking, serious, or a mixture of both, Jeff Beck had plenty to be proud of as a former member of The Yardbirds. He was able to appear in the iconic film Blow-Up and steal the show with his guitar smashing. The Yardbirds also benefited from his tenure in the group as Beck’s unique guitar attack helped the band evolve its sound.
Having A Rave Up With The Yardbirds captures the raw energy Jeff Beck brought to the band at this time and the album is now cited as a major influence on hard rock.