Jeff Beck death: Legendary rock guitarist dies aged 78

Jeff Beck has died, at the age of 78.

The rock guitarist died on Tuesday (10 January) after “suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis”.

Beck’s representative confirmed the news in a statement (via Variety), writing: “On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing. After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday.

“His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”

Beck recently completed a tour supporting 18, his album with Johnny Depp.

The pair said they titled their album 18 after the creative outburst they felt working together. “We would joke about how we felt 18 again, so that just became the album title, too,” Beck said in a statement.

Jeff Beck (Getty Images for Live Nation)
Jeff Beck (Getty Images for Live Nation)

The English guitarist was an eight-time Grammy winner, earning his first seven for instrumental performances and his eighth in 2009 for his work on Herbie Hancock’s studio album The Imagine Project.

Beck first gained notoriety in 1965 after joining the rock band The Yardbirds as a replacement for Eric Clapton. While he only stayed with them for 18 months, he played nearly all of the group’s hits.

He later fronted the Jeff Beck Group with lead vocalist Rod Stewart. However, it quickly fell apart, lasting for only two albums.

During the 1970s, Beck created a second group, Beck, Bogart & Appice, a more R&B-oriented version of his former group. Established with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, the power trio were short-lived.

Often considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Beck pioneered jazz-rock. Over the course of his career, his experimentation with distortion and fuzz effects paved the way for heavier subgenres like psych-rock and heavy metal.

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice in 1992 and acknowledged as part of the Yardbirds, he snubbed the band in his speech, saying: “They kicked me out… f*** them!”

Beck then entered the hall in 2009 as a solo artist.