Jeff Beck, rock legend and Yardbirds guitarist for a time, has died at 78. Relatives of the artist quickly shared the cause of the rocker’s sudden death.

Jeff Beck is dead. The news announced by relatives on the evening of Wednesday, January 11, the day after the death of the artist, plunged the rock world into mourning. The death of Jeff Beck, ranked fifth best guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, was unexpected. Barely a few months ago, the 78-year-old was still on stage delivering solos and playing songs from his latest album.

The guitarist of the Yardbirds, a 1960s rock band, was killed by a devastating illness. Jeff Beck’s family said in a statement posted on Twitter that the artist “suddenly contracted bacterial meningitis”. Another source, close to the British musician’s friends, told People that the rocker’s health has deteriorated “rapidly over the past two weeks.” To reassure fans and ease their pain, Jeff Beck’s relatives assured that he died “peacefully”.

It is impossible to know where the artist contracted this often serious and serious disease, although curable. The company specializing in diagnoses and the origins of diseases Biomérieux reports that, in one out of five cases, even after recovery, patients nevertheless retain sequelae, or even disabilities.

Behind his guitar, Jeff Beck marked the history of Rock’n Roll and was one of the best in his field. He was close to the talent of the greatest like Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, whom he rubbed shoulders with in the group The Yardbirds, but also that of Jimi Hendrix in the ranking of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time established by Rolling Stone magazine with an honorable 5th place.

The specialized magazine also granted another prestigious title to Jeff Beck by presenting him as “one of the most influential solo guitarists in rock”. A glowing opinion shared by everyone in the world of music, the proof with the artist’s double induction into the pantheon of rock: the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame. The British guitarist entered it twice, the first in 1992 with the group The Yarbirds and the second in 2009 to salute his solo career. Tributes to which must be added the 8 Grammy Awards he has won throughout his career.

In more than 50 years of career, Jeff Beck has had the time to mark the history of rock’n roll and more broadly that of music with his electric guitars which (almost) never left him. The musician also had a preference for instruments from the Fender and Gibson brands. An unconditional fan of the Fender Stratocaster, the musician ended up designing the Jeff Beck Singature Startocaster model sold in 1991. With his guitars, Jeff Beck shone on rock and hard rock riffs, notably with his second album Beck-Ola, one of the first of the hard current, but also distinguished himself by his mastery of jazz or blues melodies and his ability to juggle between styles.

Carried by the spirit of rock and the spirits of this music at the beginning of his career, Jeff Beck gradually slipped towards other universes with more experimental projects, one of which is at the origin of jazz fusion, a good rock embraced by inspirations from the world of jazz. The artist expressed himself with this new genre in the albums Blow by Blow in 1975 and Wire in 1976. This evolution and these musical discoveries were not surprising given the philosophy of the artist. The guitarist told Le Monde in 2001 “look ahead, record after record, concert after concert, tour after tour.”

With his golden fingers, his working tool which was insured up to several million pounds sterling, the British artist also showed great creativity in addition to his technical prowess. With his guitars and his amps, Jeff Beck has never stopped innovating and looking for new sounds to integrate into his songs. He was also one of the first to try out the distortion effects experimented at the time by the group The Who.

With so many strings on his guitar, it’s no wonder Jeff Beck leaves a big void behind him. When the death of the guitarist was announced, several musicians and some of the greatest paid tribute to their colleague. Legendary Rolling Stones member Mick Jagger hailed “a wonderful man and one of the greatest guitarists in the world” on Twitter by posting a video of a duet with Jeff Beck. The two men shared the stage a few times and even had a threesome with Barack Obama in 2017.

“No one played guitar like Jeff,” wrote hard rock band Kiss member Gene Simmons, while Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi recalled “an incredible icon, a genius guitarist. He never there will never be another Jeff Beck.” Musician Paul Young also had a word for Jeff Beck and said he was “devastated by the legendary guitarist’s sudden and tragic death”.

In the columns of Var-Matin, Jim McCarty, original drummer of the Yardbirds, expressed a great shock. If he confided to having lost contact with Jeff Beck in recent years, he remembered “very good times in the group and for many years that followed”. Not hesitating to qualify Jeff Beck as an “exceptional player” and “completely ‘offbeat'”, Jim McCarty highlighted “his solos with the Yardbirds” which remain, even today, “classics”.

Jeff Beck has spent his whole life playing guitar, in different groups or solo, and it is in music that many of the greatest artists have paid tribute to him. While duets or great stage moments from the guitarist resurfaced, some took care to highlight the rock legend’s best solos, whether covers or originals.

With more than 50 years of career, there are countless performances and pieces by Jeff Beck, but some occupy a special place in the musical history of the artist. In particular Beck’s Bolero which is none other than one of his first titles as a solo artist in which the man showed his dexterity on the guitar with the first distortion effects. After many years without a band, Jeff Beck has signed a successful reunion with his friend and former vocalist in The Jeff Beck Group, Rob Stewart, with People Get Ready. It’s impossible to trace the great moments of Jeff Beck’s career without talking about covers, in particular Stevie Wonder’s Superstition. This song is also subject to debate because according to some Jeff Beck would have brought his paw to the song with the famous riff and the intro on the drums. Still, the man is not credited with the composition of this tube, which did not prevent him from making an impression with his more rock version of the soul tube.

At 78 years old, Jeff Beck was still in good shape and animated by the music, enough to carry out a North American tour and make a stopover in Paris for a date at the Olympia in July 2022. The guitarist was not alone during his tour since he was accompanied by his longtime friend, actor and musician Johnny Depp. The duo performed songs from their album 18 on stage.

Johnny Depp was with Jeff Beck during the artist’s last moments according to a source close to the actor at People magazine, who indicates that Johnny Depp “is totally devastated. He was at Jeff’s bedside with a few other rock stars .” The two men “had a very strong friendship, they were extremely close, and he grew even closer over the past summer when they were on tour together. The illness came very quickly and everything deteriorated quickly over the over the past two weeks.”

Geoffrey Arnold Beck had a flourishing career. Born in June 1944 in Wallington, Greater London, he joined The Yardbirds aged just 21 in 1965 with his friend Jimmy Page and later Eric Clapton. If he only stayed 18 months in the musical formation, Jeff Beck participated in the recording of the greatest hits of the group.

Even after his departure from the Yardbirds, the artist remained close to his two friends who shared a passion for rock and also had a career. “The three of us were English and we were friends before the scene. Between us it was like a kind of one-upmanship, not a competition because we were close, but it was up to who was going to wow his two comrades. It’s as well as we have progressed, by necessity”, said Jeff Beck during his lifetime as recalled by Les Echos.

In 1967, the guitarist began a new chapter with the creation of The Jeff Beck Group with the famous Rob Stewart on vocals and Ron Wood on bass. But it was during his solo career, which began in the 1970s, that Jeff Beck signed his greatest hits, including the famous ballad Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers, his cover of I Put a Spell on You or his recording of Superstition. before Stevie Wonder’s version.