Jeff Beck, guitar icon and hot-rod devotee, passes at age 78

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Jeff Beck, virtuoso guitarist and former Yardbirds member, passed away on January 10, 2023, at age 78. Beck, twice inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is of course best known for his command of blues and rock guitar, with a career that included fronting The Jeff Beck Group, a successful solo career, and a list of collaborators that reads like a who’s who of pop music from the last 60 years.

Few musicians had the skill to go toe-to-toe with other guitar legends as Beck did with former Yardbirds bandmates Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, not to mention his collaboration with American blues guitar phenom Stevie Ray Vaughan. However, there was another side to Beck. He was also a tremendous fan of vintage cars and, thanks to an uncle who introduced him to the automotive hobby, was wrenching on cars before his music career began to pay off.

He owned a number of beautifully restored cars and completed several restorations of his own, including his 1963 Corvette Sting Ray coupe, which was one of his first major purchases after joining the Yardbirds. GQ has an interview with Beck in which he talks about the split-window, his dream Corvette. He was also a fan of ’32 Fords and had both coupes and roadsters in his collection. If it weren’t for his musical career, he once admitted, he’d have likely become a hot-rod builder.

Guitarist Jeff Beck Ford Hot Rod
Beck arrives in style at a meet-and-greet in celebration of his new book, BECK01, at Mel’s Drive In on August 8, 2016, in West Hollywood, California. Tasia Wells/WireImage

Rod Stewart, who was the vocalist for The Jeff Beck Group before he started his own solo career, commented on Beck’s passing on Twitter:

Jeff Beck was on another planet. He took me and Ronnie Wood to the USA in the late ’60s in his band the Jeff Beck Group and we haven’t looked back since. He was one of the few guitarists that when playing live would actually listen to me sing and respond. Jeff, you were the greatest, my man. Thank you for everything. RIP

Beck’s legacy as a guitarist will last for generations. We are saddened by his sudden passing, as his talent and verve for playing were still wholly intact. We wish his family the best.

If you’ve got a favorite Jeff Beck song, and a car with a stereo that can do it justice, we think that a drive is in order.

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    May you rest in peace Jeff. I believe that you and I were both trying to buy Harry Luzader’s 1932 Ford 5-window coupe ex drag car from the current owner, way back in the day, and neither one of us was ever successful.

    Man, when a rocker is also a car nut, there is just no better mixture of interests, IMHO. I have listened to Beck and become mesmerized by his finger-picking style, but to WATCH him was a whole ‘nuther experience altogether. Nobody, but NObody could do what he did – he is uncopyable. The rock world AND the blues world have lost the greatest to ever play.

    IMHO Jeff Beck was the best of the Yardbirds alumni, (and I’m a Zeppelin freak.)
    My favourite albums if his are “Wired” and “Blow By Blow”.
    A very apropos send-off from us car aficionados would be a listen to “Freeway Jam”.
    We’ll miss you Jeff.

    I saw The Jeff Beck Group, when I was 16, at the Barton Coliseum, in Little Rock,
    my ears were never the same!
    Rock on man!

    Jeff was a true hot rodder as he even used to get Von Dutch to stripe his cars back before most knew who Dutch was.

    I used to love to see Jeffs cars as he had good taste vs many English rods. He was more in tune with the California look.

    As for the guitar playing I can still here his version of People Get Ready. I was lucky to see him just a couple years ago where he and Brian Wilson both were on stage playing together in Akron Ohio. They were were amazing to see and hear.

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