meta-scriptRemembering Jeff Beck: 5 Essential Tracks From The Guitar Wizard And Influential Innovator | GRAMMY.com
Remembering Jeff Beck: 5 Essential Tracks From The Guitar Wizard And Influential Innovator
Jeff Beck performs during the Helsinki Blues Festival in 2022

Photo: Venla Shalin/Redferns

news

Remembering Jeff Beck: 5 Essential Tracks From The Guitar Wizard And Influential Innovator

Jeff Beck passed away on Jan. 11 at age 78. The virtuoso guitarist's soul, tone and techniques influenced generations of guitarists. His six-decade career netted eight GRAMMY Awards and many memorable songs.

GRAMMYs/Jan 12, 2023 - 04:59 pm

Only 11 days into the new year and yet another rock elder has gone off to that great gig in the sky. The latest news came late Wednesday afternoon: Jeff Beck, 78, died peacefully after suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis.

Social media was immediately flooded with tributes from fellow guitar greats such as David Gilmour and Tony Iommi. In a tweet, Jimmy Page called Beck a "six stringed warrior" who "could channel music from the ethereal." In a short farewell posted via her Substack newsletter, Patti Smith described Beck as "quiet as moccasined feet, yet mercurial, innovative, impossible to categorize," and  "a guitarist in the highest sense."   

Beck remained an active musician until his passing. In 2022, he released 18 with actor Johnny Depp. He is featured on Ozzy Osbourne’s "Patient No. 9," which is nominated for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance at the 2023 GRAMMY Awards

The British guitar slinger’s unique stylings and mastery of his instrument influenced generations of players. In 1965, on the advice of Page, Beck replaced Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds. Two years later, he left the electric blues band to form the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart and a then unknown Ron Wood on bass. Their 1968 debut, Truth, showcased how Beck’s various influences — sprinklings of jazz and funk, mixed with rock and blues — could create a new sound that resembles what, today, we call hard rock or heavy metal. Back then, it was just known as the Jeff Beck sound.

Beck built his first guitar when he was still a teenager, and constantly found new tones and broke new ground on his beloved instrument. Through experimentation and constant exploration of what his instrument could do, the guitarist is credited with advancing feedback techniques, and incorporating distortion and bends into his playing. Blow by Blow, his second solo record, reached No. 4 on the Billboard charts and was his most commercially successful — selling more than one million copies.

Beck won eight GRAMMY Awards over the course of his nearly six-decade career and was twice inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Even as he approached his 80th year, Beck continued to quietly innovate. Here are five Essential Jeff Beck songs to honor this guitar great gone too soon. 

"Scatterbrain" (1975)

The George Martin-produced "Scatterbrain" from his commercial breakthrough Blow by Blow, t is a co-write with keyboardist Max Middleton and a lively conversation between Beck’s guitar and Richard Bailey’s percussion.

Back in 1975, the year this song was released, wannabe guitar players sat in their bedrooms, listening to this 5-minute and 40-second epic song on their turntables on repeat and wondered how could they ever compare to such mastery. Many guitarists today, hearing "Scatterbrain" for the first time, have the same reaction. 

"Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers" (1975)

Stevie Wonder originally wrote this song for his wife Syreeta, but passed it to Beck as an apology for releasing "Superstition" first. The sound of Beck’s Fender Telecaster is otherworldly as he plays with tone and technique to take you on a journey to unexplored territory. Close your eyes and listen to this mournful song, and try to focus on each riff and melodic shift. Nearly a half-century on, this Blow By Blow track still hits deep.

"Beck’s Bolero" (1967)

Beck's first hit was initially released as a single, then appeared on his solo debut Truth. The Jimmy Page-penned instrumental showcases his prowess playing a Les Paul and features future Led Zeppelin members Page (who played the rhythm guitar parts) and bassist John Paul Jones, along with the Who’s drummer Keith Moon.

"A Day in the Life" (1998)

The guitarist initially recorded this instrumental cover of the Beatles' beloved classic for the George Martin-produced tribute album In My Life. The song later appeared on Beck’s 2008 album Performing This Week: Live at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and won Beck another GRAMMY for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. By adding tones and feelings that only a guitar in his hands could imagine, Beck yet again demonstrates how he can create unique interpretations nearly as memorable as their masterpiece originals.

"Hammerhead" (2010)

The song won a golden gramophone for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 53rd GRAMMY Awards — Beck’s fifth in this category, and third win at that year's ceremony. Taken from the album Emotion & Commotion, and inspired by composer and keyboardist Jan Hammer, this rocker is a nod to some of Beck's earliest compositions from the '70s. "Hammerhead" features plenty of wah-wah pedals, distortion, whammy-bar effects and other tricks. Turn it up.

Remembering Syl Johnson: 5 Essential Tracks From The Soul Great And Self-Proclaimed "Most Sampled Artist Ever"

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Beyoncé's Heartfelt Speech For Her Record-Breaking Win In 2023
Beyoncé at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

video

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Beyoncé's Heartfelt Speech For Her Record-Breaking Win In 2023

Relive the night Beyoncé received a gramophone for Best Dance/Electronic Album for 'RENAISSANCE' at the 2023 GRAMMYS — the award that made her the most decorated musician in GRAMMY history.

GRAMMYs/Feb 2, 2024 - 05:12 pm

Six years after her last solo studio album, Beyoncé returned to the music industry with a bang thanks to RENAISSANCE. In homage to her late Uncle Johnny, she created a work of art inspired by the sounds of disco and house that wasn't just culturally impactful — it was history-making.

At the 2023 GRAMMYs, RENAISSANCE won Best Dance/Electronic Album. Marking Beyoncé's 32nd golden gramophone, the win gave the superstar the record for most gramophones won by an individual act.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the historic moment Queen Bey took the stage to accept her record-breaking GRAMMY at the 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

"Thank you so much. I'm trying not to be too emotional," Beyoncé said at the start of her acceptance speech. "I'm just trying to receive this night."

With a deep breath, she began to list her praises that included God, her family, and the Recording Academy for their continued support throughout her career. 

"I'd like to thank my Uncle Johnny, who is not here, but he's here in spirit," Beyoncé proclaimed. "I'd like to thank the queer community for your love and inventing this genre."

Watch the video above for Beyoncé's full speech for Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind. 

Tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

A Timeline Of Beyoncé's GRAMMY Moments, From Her First Win With Destiny's Child to Making History With 'Renaissance'

GRAMMY Rewind: Lizzo Thanks Prince For His Influence After "About Damn Time" Wins Record Of The Year In 2023
Lizzo at the 2023 GRAMMYs

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

video

GRAMMY Rewind: Lizzo Thanks Prince For His Influence After "About Damn Time" Wins Record Of The Year In 2023

Watch Lizzo describe how Prince’s empowering sound led her to “dedicate my life to positive music” during her Record Of The Year acceptance speech for “About Damn Time” at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Jan 19, 2024 - 06:00 pm

Since the start of her career, four-time GRAMMY winner Lizzo has been making music that radiates positive energy. Her Record Of The Year win for "About Damn Time" at the 2023 GRAMMYs proved that being true to yourself and kind to one another always wins.

Travel back to revisit the moment Lizzo won her award in the coveted category in this episode of GRAMMY Rewind. 

"Um, huh?" Lizzo exclaimed at the start of her acceptance speech. "Let me tell you something. Me and Adele are having a good time, just enjoying ourselves and rooting for our friends. So, this is an amazing night. This is so unexpected."

Lizzo kicked off her GRAMMY acceptance speech by acknowledging Prince's influence on her sound. "When we lost Prince, I decided to dedicate my life to making positive music," she said. "This was at a time when positive music and feel-good music wasn't mainstream at that point and I felt very misunderstood. I felt on the outside looking in. But I stayed true to myself because I wanted to make the world a better place so I had to be that change."

As tracks like "Good as Hell" and "Truth Hurts" scaled the charts, she noticed more body positivity and self-love anthems from other artists. "I'm just so proud to be a part of it," she cheered.

Most importantly, Lizzo credited staying true to herself despite the pushback for her win. "I promise that you will attract people in your life who believe in you and support you," she said in front of a tearful audience that included Beyoncé and Taylor Swift in standing ovation, before giving a shout-out to her team, family, partner and producers on the record, Blake Slatkin and Ricky Reed

Watch the video above for Lizzo's complete acceptance speech for Record Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind, and be sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

10 Must-See Moments From The 2023 GRAMMYs

GRAMMY Rewind: Harry Styles Celebrates His Fellow Nominees (And His Biggest Fan) After Album Of The Year Win In 2023
Harry Styles at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Mazur

video

GRAMMY Rewind: Harry Styles Celebrates His Fellow Nominees (And His Biggest Fan) After Album Of The Year Win In 2023

Revisit the moment Harry Styles accepted the most coveted award of the evening for 'Harry's House' and offered a heartfelt nod to his competitors — Beyoncé, Adele, Lizzo, Coldplay and more.

GRAMMYs/Jan 5, 2024 - 06:00 pm

After a wildly successful debut and sophomore record, you'd think it was impossible for Harry Styles to top himself. Yet, his third album, Harry's House, proved to be his most prolific yet.

The critically acclaimed project first birthed Styles' record-breaking, chart-topping single, "As It Was," then landed three more top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Late Night Talking," "Music for a Sushi Restaurant" and "Matilda." The album and "As It Was" scored Styles six nominations at the 2023 GRAMMYs — and helped the star top off his massive Harry's House era with an Album Of The Year win.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit Styles' big moment from last year's ceremony, which was made even more special by his superfan, Reina Lafantaisie. Host Trevor Noah (who will return as emcee for the 2024 GRAMMYs) handed the mic to Lafantaisie to announce Styles as the winner, and the two shared a celebratory hug before Styles took the mic.

"I've been so, so inspired by every artist in this category," said Styles, who was up against other industry titans like Beyoncé, Adele, Lizzo and Coldplay. "On nights like tonight, it's important for us to remember that there is no such thing as 'best' in music. I don't think any of us sit in the studio, making decisions based on what will get us [an award]."

Watch the video above to see Harry Styles' complete acceptance speech alongside his collaborators Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson. Check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind, and be sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8 -11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

Here Are The Album Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs

A Brief History Of Hip-Hop At 50: Rap's Evolution From A Bronx Party To The GRAMMY Stage
Rappers Chuck D, Professor Griff, Flavor Flav and DJ Terminator X of Public Enemy in 1988

Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

feature

A Brief History Of Hip-Hop At 50: Rap's Evolution From A Bronx Party To The GRAMMY Stage

Aug. 11, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. To honor the legacy and influence of this now global culture, GRAMMY.com presents a timeline marking the genre's biggest moments.

GRAMMYs/Aug 11, 2023 - 02:28 pm

This year marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, a cultural movement that rose from humble beginnings in New York to fuel a worldwide phenomenon.    

Scholars may debate whether its roots precede Aug. 11, 1973, when DJ Kool Herc debuted his "merry-go-round" technique of playing funk breaks back-to-back to a roomful of teenagers in the Bronx. However, there’s little doubt that this event sparked a flowering of activity throughout the borough, inspiring DJs, breakdancers, graffiti artists, and, eventually, pioneering MCs like Coke La Rock and Cowboy.  

The music industry eventually caught wind of the scene, leading to formative 1979 singles like the Fatback Band’s "King Tim III" — the funk band featured MC and hypeman Timothy "King Tim III" Washington — and the big one: the Sugarhill Gang’s "Rapper’s Delight."   

Today, rap music is the most popular genre of music, led by superstars such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Eminem, and many others. Despite its massive success, many artists retain their strong ties to communities of color, reflecting the genre’s origins as a form rooted in the streets. 

To mark hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, press play on the playlist below, or head to Amazon Music, Apple Music and Pandora for a crash course in this quintessential stateside artform — further proof of the genius of Black American music.

At the 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards, the Recording Academy showcased the breadth of hip-hop's influence via a star-studded, generation-spanning performance. Curated by Questlove and featuring legends such as Grandmaster Flash, Run-D.M.C., Ice-T, Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Nelly, and GloRilla, the 2023 GRAMMYs' hip-hop tribute showed that hip-hop remains one of the most exciting music cultures — and will likely remain so for the next 50 years. 

A Timeline Of Hip-Hop's Development 

1973 – On Aug. 11, 1973, Clive "Kool Herc" Campbell DJs a back-to-school party organized by his sister, Cindy Campbell, in the rec room at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, New York. The event is widely considered to be the beginning of hip-hop culture.    

1979 – Longtime R&B star and producer Sylvia Robinson launches Sugar Hill Records with her husband, Joe. She discovers their first act in New Jersey, a trio of rapping teenagers — Wonder Mike, Big Bank Hank, and Master Gee — and brands the Sugarhill Gang. The Gang’s first single, "Rapper’s Delight," sells millions of copies and becomes the first global rap hit.    

1982 – Co-written by Duke Bootee and Melle Mel and produced by Clifton "Jiggs" Chase, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s hit single "The Message" becomes a turning point in the genre. Bootee and Melle Mel’s stark descriptions of poverty signal to fans and critics that hip-hop is capable of more than just party music.    

1984 – Russell Simmons’ Rush Management organizes Fresh Fest, a groundbreaking arena tour featuring hot rap acts like Run-D.M.C., Whodini, Kurtis Blow, the Fat Boys, and Newcleus as well as b-boy crews such as the Dynamic Breakers. Held during the next two years, it signifies hip-hop’s growing popularity.    

1986 – After bringing frat-boy chaos as the opening act on Madonna’s Virgin Tour, Def Jam understudies the Beastie Boys collaborate with producer Rick Rubin on Licensed to Ill. Spawning the hit single "Fight for Your Right," the album is certified diamond in 2015. 

A Brief History Of Hip-Hop At 50 - beastie boys

Beastie Boys in 1987 | Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

1987 – Thanks to a remix by the late DJ/producer Cameron Paul, rap trio Salt-N-Pepa get teens everywhere twerking — and worry parents and school administrators — with the electro-bass classic, "Push It."   

1988 – Public Enemy release their second album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Reportedly featuring over 100 samples and focused on Chuck D, Flavor Flav and Professor Griff’s revolutionary lyrics, it’s often cited as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.    

1989 – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince win the first hip-hop GRAMMY Award for Best Rap Performance for their 1988 hit single, "Parents Just Don’t Understand."  

1988 – Thanks to lyrics criticizing law enforcement and depicting raw life in Compton, California, N.W.A spark national controversy with their influential second album, Straight Outta Compton.    

1991 – Ice-T appears in New Jack City, becoming one of the first rappers to headline a major Hollywood film. That same year, he appears on the Lollapalooza tour with his metal group, Body Count, and performs an early version of "Cop Killer." The song becomes a flashpoint in the 1992 presidential election.    

1993 – Wu-Tang Clan release their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). With nine members led by rapper/producer the RZA, the highly unique Staten Island-based collective spawned dozens of solo albums and affiliated acts over the following decades.   

1996 – Naughty by Nature earn the first GRAMMY Award for Best Rap Album with their third album, Poverty’s Paradise. The 1995 set includes a major radio hit in "Feel Me Flow."    

1996 – After dominating most of 1996 with his fourth album, the diamond-certified double album All Eyez on Me, 2Pac is killed in Las Vegas. The unsolved murder of one of the greatest rappers of all time remains a watershed moment in music culture.   

1997 – Days before the release of his diamond-certified second album, Life After Death, the Notorious B.I.G. is killed in Los Angeles. The slaying of two of hip-hop’s biggest artists prompts soul-searching across the music industry and inspired Biggie’s friend, Puff Daddy, to release the GRAMMY Award-winning hit, "I'll Be Missing You."  

1997 – After writing and producing hits for MC Lyte and Aaliyah, Missy Elliott debuts as a solo artist with Supa Dupa Fly. With production help from Timbaland and kinetic music videos, Elliott establishes herself as one of the most innovative acts of the era. 

A Brief History Of Hip-Hop At 50 missy elliott

Missy Elliott | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images 

1998 – After scoring multi-platinum hits with the Fugees, Lauryn Hill strikes out on her own with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The diamond-certified album earns her several GRAMMY Awards, including Album Of The Year.    

1999 – Dr. Dre releases 2001, cementing his legacy as one of the most influential rap producers ever. The album features numerous collaborators, including longtime homie Snoop Dogg and rising lyricist Eminem.    

2001 – On Sept. 11, Jay-Z releases his sixth album, The Blueprint. It becomes a career highlight for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame rapper, and a breakout moment for rising producers Just Blaze and Kanye West.    

2003 – Hit-making duo OutKast split their double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below into separate sides for Big Boi and Andre 3000 — the latter focusing on singing instead of rapping. Their fresh approach results in a diamond-certified project and a GRAMMY for Album Of The Year.    

2008 – Lil Wayne mania peaks with Tha Carter III, which sells over 1 million copies in its first week and earns him a GRAMMY for Best Rap Album.    

2010 – Nicki Minaj releases Pink Friday. The hit album makes her a rare female rap star during a dearth of prominent women voices in the genre.    

2017 – By landing a Top 10 Billboard hit with "XO Tour Llif3" and topping the Billboard 200 with Luv Is Rage 2, Lil Uzi Vert signifies the rise of internet-fueled trends like "SoundCloud rap" and "emo rap."   

2017 – With his fourth album Damn., Kendrick Lamar not only wins a GRAMMY for Best Rap Album, but he also becomes the first rap artist to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music, leading to the fanciful nickname "Pulitzer Kenny."    

2018 – Cardi B releases her debut album Invasion of Privacy, scoring Billboard No. 1 hits such as "Bodak Yellow" and "I Like It." As the best-selling female rap album of the 2010s, the LP won Best Rap Album at the 61st GRAMMY Awards in 2019, making Cardi the first solo female rapper to win the Category.  

A Brief History Of Hip-Hop At 50 cardi b

Cardi B at the 61st GRAMMY Awards | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy 

2020 – In early 2020, rising star Pop Smoke is killed in Los Angeles. Months later, his posthumous debut album, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, tops the charts, signifying the rise of drill as a major force in hip-hop culture.  

2021 – At the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2021, the Recording Academy introduced the Best Melodic Rap Performance Category, formerly known as the Best Rap/Sung Performance Category, to "represent the inclusivity of the growing hybrid performance trends within the rap genre." 

2023 - At the 2023 GRAMMY Awards, seven-time GRAMMY winner Dr. Dre became the recipient of the inaugural Dr. Dre Global Impact Award for his multitude of achievements through his innovative, multi-decade career. Dre was first presented with the award at the Black Music Collective's Recording Academy Honors ceremony. 

50 Artists Who Changed Rap: Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem & More