London, 11 Jan. The British musician Jeff Beck, considered one of the greatest guitarists in the history of rock, died this Tuesday at the age of 78, his family reported today, Wednesday.
A multiple-time Grammy Award winner, Beck was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, for his solo career and as a member of the Yardbirds.
“It is with great and profound sadness that we share the news of the death of Jeff Beck. Having suddenly contracted bacterial meningitis, he passed away peacefully yesterday,” his family said in a statement.
His family asked in the same note for “privacy” in order to “process this tremendous loss.”
Considered by specialized publications and by other musicians as one of the greatest virtuosos to have ever played the guitar, Beck stood out as a great innovator both with the Yardbirds, a group in which he replaced Eric Clapton in 1965 at the suggestion of Jimmy Page, and with the in front of the Jeff Beck Group.
He was one of the pioneers in fusing jazz with rock, he experimented with distortions that had never been tried before and performed with countless performers.
Precisely one of his last best-known performances was when he appeared on stage last May with actor Johnny Depp in Sheffield (England) just after the end of the media defamation trial that pitted him against his ex-wife Amber Heard.
Beck was born in 1944 in Wallington, South London, and developed his musical skills from an early age, first in a church choir and later as a guitarist.
As a member of the Yardbirds, he participated in the group’s golden age, albeit for only 20 months, before going solo with their first album, “Truth”, in 1968.
In the 70s he delved into fusion between jazz and rock, in collaboration with John McLaughlin, although in the following decade he greatly reduced his activity, only to return in the 90s thanks to collaborations with Jon Bon Jovi and Kate Bush.
In recent years his recording production was very limited, but his figure as a guitar guru made many young artists, such as Joss Stone, seek him out for their projects.
The first reactions to his death were not long in coming, such as that of Gene Simmons, a member of Kiss, who recalled that “nobody played the guitar like Jeff.”