JEFF BECK - The silent singer

27. June 2014

Jeff Beck

JEFF BECK - The silent singer

Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards - all the great guitarists of the classical rock era have something in common without which a success story in the pop business would be inconceivable: hits. Jeff Beck has to pass. Not even a guitar riff for eternity like that of "Smoke On The Water" or at least a solo like the one in Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" he could claim for himself. The only hit he ever had was "Hi Ho Silver Lining!", an obscure 1967 beer-tent dark beer scarecrow, which producer Mickie Most had committed to make the guitarist a solo star.

Beck had only reluctantly hummed his vocal part into the microphone, but the single had miraculously made it into the charts. In the meantime, pop history has mercifully spread the cloak of oblivion over this chapter of Beck's career, which has never again allowed such an experiment to be carried out. On the market of musical vanities, sensations and spectacular strokes of genius, Beck has hardly ever become conspicuous, and he preferred to leave the singing to his guitar. He became famous anyway.

Special case in rock history

Jeff Beck is a special case in rock history. He always did what he would have done better if he had looked at things in a success-oriented way: The Jeff Beck Group, just on the verge of celebrity fame and later studded with superstars like Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, he drove coldly smiling in front of the wall. When everyone else turned up their amps, played hard rock, heavy metal and prog, he released instrumental fusion albums and worked with jazz musicians like Jan Hammer. When former companions like Wood, Page or Clapton toured through the stadiums of this world and made money with old hits, Beck made an offer to go on tour with his long-time buddy Rod Stewart, instead he put on the Blaumann in his own workshop at home, grabbed a wrench and restored vintage cars.

His reputation as a guitar genius has never suffered. On the contrary: He still fills the halls with highly individual, mostly instrumental music, is considered a cult musician and enjoys greater respect than ever among his colleagues. Beck plays in his own league, which proves that beyond all marketing, all chart lists and all glamour at the end only one thing counts: the music.

Born on 4 June 1944 in Wallington, a southern suburb of London, Beck not only listened as a teenager to hip guitar heroes like Scotty Moore of Elvis Presley's band or Buddy Holly sideman Cliff Gallup, but also to the comparatively unhippy tinkerer Les Paul. Already in the early 1950s, he invented machines and apparatuses with which sounds could be electronically manipulated, and layered several recording tracks on top of each other using primitive overdub technique, thus creating almost futuristic worlds of sound for the listening habits of the time. An influence that can hardly be overestimated for Jeff Beck's further path as a musician.

Lesen Sie mehr im eclipsed Nr. 162 (Juli/August 2014).