Legendary British guitarist Jeff Beck who rose to fame with The Yardbirds died on Tuesday aged 78. Beck died suddenly after contracting bacterial meningitis. Beck's family posted the tragic news on Twitter along with a photo of the musician performing on stage wearing his signature specs and holding a guitar.
Beck replaced Eric Clapton in The Yardbirds, before forming the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart. Beck's death comes just weeks after the former Yardbirds member and Depp wrapped up a transatlantic tour in support of their debut album, "18." In the UK, the album is up for three Brit Awards.
Beck's death was confirmed by his family via a Twitter post. "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 said in a statement posted Wednesday on Twitter.
"His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss," the statement concluded.
According to his spokesman, Beck, one of the finest guitarists of all time, fell ill over the holidays and passed away at a hospital close to his Surrey home. He is survived by his sixth wife Sandra.
Becak was 61 and Sandra was 41 when they got married in Tunbridge Wells in 2005. Sir Paul McCartney attended the ceremony. Sandra designed the album cover artwork for Beck and Depp's album, 18, which features the duo as teenagers.
"When Johnny and I started playing together, it really ignited our youthful spirit and creativity. We would joke about how we felt 18 again, so that just became the album title too," Beck said about collaborating with Depp.
Beck and Depp discovered a shared passion for guitars when they first met in 2016. They ultimately decided to collaborate on an album in 2019.
Beck's death comes occurs just a few weeks after the former Yardbirds member and Depp wrapped up their transatlantic tour in support of their debut album, "18." The album is up for nomination in the UK for three Brit Awards.
In recent years, Beck and Depp have gotten to know one another well. In the latter part of last year, the two were spotted out drinking in Britain.
End of an Era
Beck, who was hailed as one of history's finest guitarists and whose fingers and thumbs were infamously insured for £7 million, was also regarded as a voracious innovator. Over the course of his career, he invented jazz-rock, experimented with fuzz and distortion effects, and opened the path for stronger subgenres like psych rock and heavy metal.
He was a member of the Yardbirds and an individual artist who was elected into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He was also an eight-time Grammy winner and the Ivor Novello award for outstanding contribution to British music.
Beck had to postpone a European tour in June 2014 after being rushed to the hospital for an unspecified medical procedure. Despite this, he only took a six-week hiatus before starting his tour again in August.
Beck was questioned about his health in a 2016 Rolling Stone interview. He said, "I'm fit as a fiddle. Eric [Clapton's] got a nerve complaint. It sounds horrible. It would be so sad if it impairs his playing. I did sprain my wrist, carrying something heavy. And I have a bad back. They had to operate in the lower back. As long as I rest every so often – lie flat – I'm fine. But I keep lifting stuff."
Rolling Stone placed Beck at No. 5 on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists in 2015.
Among those paying tribute to Beck was Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi who tweeted: "Jeff was such a nice person and an outstanding iconic, genius guitar player — there will never be another Jeff Beck."
"I can't express how saddened I am to hear of @JeffBeckMusic's passing," Ozzy Osbourne tweeted. "What a terrible loss for his family, friends & his many fans. It was such an honor to have known Jeff & an incredible honor to have had him play on my most recent album, #PatientNumber9. Long live #JeffBeck."
"Heartbreaking news to report the late, great Jeff Back has sadly passed," KISS singer/bassist Gene Simmons tweeted. "No one played guitar like Jeff. Please get ahold of the first two Jeff Beck Group albums and behold greatness. RIP."
"Devastated to hear of the sudden and tragic death of legendary guitarist Jeff Beck. He was loved by everyone in the know; the guitarists guitarist! My condolences to his family & friends RIP," British musician Paul Young wrote.
"With the death of Jeff Beck we have lost a wonderful man and one of the greatest guitar players in the world," Mick Jagger wrote. "We will all miss him so much."
Rod Stewart, who toured with the Jeff Beck Group in the late 60s, called him "one of the few guitarists that when playing live would actually listen to me sing and respond ... you were the greatest, my man. Thank you for everything."
Beck was nominated for a 2023 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song for his work on Ozzy Osbourne's Patient Number 9. When Beck left the Yardbirds, he launched a solo career that included hard rock, jazz, funky blues, and even opera.
He was known for his improvisational skills, love of harmonics, and the whammy bar on his Fender Stratocaster guitar of choice.