Angels Get Ready, Jeff Beck's A-Comin'
With all of the legendary artists who have passed over the last handful of years, I figured I would be ready for the next one. Jeff Beck? This is one I wasn't at all ready for.
Jeff Beck died unexpectedly this past Tuesday from a bacterial meningitis infection. He was 78 but a young 78. He looked great, sounded great and was as busy as ever. In July, Beck and Johnny Depp released a collaborative album titled 18. In September, he appeared on two tracks from Ozzy Osbourne's latest album Patient Number 9 (the title track and "A Thousand Shades). His official website posted a series of upcoming UK dates to start in May and run through July. He was like a steam train. Always moving forward. All you had to do was wait for him to come around and get on board. Then on January 10th, 2023 the ride came to an abrupt end.
Jeff Beck accomplished so much and, like so many famous artists, contributed more than he was ever aware during his lifetime. No matter how many fans I'm sure had told him how much his music effected their lives, there were still millions who never had the chance.
I first heard Jeff Beck through a Rod Stewart "best of" collection I picked up back in 1991. It was 1990's Downtown Train – Selections from the Storyteller Anthology. I hadn't read the liner notes to see who played what instrument on the songs, I just knew Rod was singing and it had some of his hit singles. One of those hits was the 1985 version of The Impressions 1965 single "People Get Ready". I wasn't ready for what I was about to hear. Who is that playing the guitar solo? I thought. It almost brought me to tears. The bending of the chords, the way it screamed out with emotion. I check the credits: Guitar - Jeff Beck. O.K. now I get it. So THIS is the Jeff Beck I've heard about.
Within minutes of his death announcement, musicians and friends began paying tribute; Jimmy Page wrote: "The six stringed Warrior is no longer here for us to admire the spell he could weave around our mortal emotions. Jeff could channel music from the ethereal. His technique unique. His imaginations apparently limitless. Jeff I will miss you along with your millions of fans." Mick Jagger wrote: "With the death of Jeff Beck we have lost a wonderful man and one of the greatest guitar players in the world. We will all miss him so much." Ronnie Wood, a former bandmate of Beck's, stated "Now Jeff has gone, I feel like one of my band of brothers has left this world, and I’m going to dearly miss him."
On Thursday night, Billy Joel paid tribute to Beck with a rendition of "People Get Ready":
Rest in peace Jeff Beck. You will be missed here. Angels? Get ready 'cuz Jeff Beck is a-comin' and you won't believe what you're about to hear.