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Geoffery Arnold “Jeff” Beck (born June 24, 1944 in Wallington, Surrey, England) is a rock guitarist who played in a number of influential bands in the 1960s. Beck never attained the commercial visibility that some of his contemporaries did. However, he has gained widespread critical acclaim, especially in the guitar playing community. What is more, his lack of visibility allowed him to remain on the cutting edge, rather than being pigeon-holed into a certain style. He is noted as a musician who has mastered many genres, including blues rock, heavy metal, jazz fusion. Most recently, he has absorbed the influence of techno, creating a groundbreaking blend of heavy guitar rock and electronica. Steve Vai has paid tribute to Beck, stating that, “the two best electric guitarists are Jeff Beck and Allan Holdsworth.”
Like many rock musicians in the early 1960s, he began his career working as a session guitarist. In 1965, Beck joined The Yardbirds (after Eric Clapton had left the group for John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers). It was during his tenure with The Yardbirds that they recorded most of their hits. In 1966, he shared the dual-lead guitar role with Jimmy Page. Time with The Yardbirds was short; Beck left after 18 months, partly for health reasons.
The following year, Beck formed a new band, The Jeff Beck Group, which featured him on lead guitar, Rod Stewart on vocals, Ron Wood on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Mick Waller on drums. The group produced two albums, Truth in 1968 and Beck-Ola the following year. These two albums are highly acclaimed, and are considered by some to be the earliest precursors to heavy metal, predating the initial Led Zeppelin albums. Owing to friction within the band, Stewart and Wood left the group in 1969 to replace Steve Marriott in the The Small Faces (this new lineup, joining Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones would shorten their name to just “The Faces”). Wood later joined The Rolling Stones.
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