Here at the Papageorge residence, we are in mourning, and will be for quite some time, at the recent passing of Jeff Beck, one of the best electric guitarists to have graced the planet. Jeff Beck’s music has been such an integral part of our lives.
For my husband, it began when he was in his early teens. John, like most younger siblings, would go into his brothers’s rooms and play their records and guitars when they weren’t home. One guitarist that stood out the most for my husband while listening to those records was Jeff Beck. John learned “Jeff’s Boogie” by ear, note-for-note at 14 years old, his friends tell me.
John and his older brothers would take the train from Fairfield to the East Village to frequent the Fillmore East and Anderson Theater, where they saw legendary rock bands: Yardbirds, Creme, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Blind Faith, Small Faces, and The Jeff Beck Group, to name a few.
John loves telling the story about when he saw The Jeff Beck Group play their first US appearance at the Fillmore. Rod Stewart was so shy, he was hiding under Nicky Hopkin’s piano when he wasn’t singing. Beck’s guitar solos were loud and did not disappoint. After seeing Jeff Beck live, learning guitar became my husband’s earliest and lifelong passion.
My first encounter with Jeff Beck’s music was in high school, when the ground-breaking “Blow By Blow” album was released. My friends and I played the album over and over and rushed out to buy tickets when we heard he was coming to the Palace Theater in Waterbury. The album “Wired” came out a year later, and we went to see him for the second time, at the Pine Crest Country Club in Shelton with the Jam Hammer Group. Once again, it was an amazing show. From that point on, he continued to grow as a musician, widening his range by experimenting with diverse genres.
When my husband and I first got together, we quickly discovered our mutual admiration for Jeff Beck and made a yearly ritual of going to see him in concert. We would get so excited when we heard he was playing, since we knew every show promised a completely transcending experience.
Jeff Beck collaborated with so many different musicians such as Les Paul, members of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, English Punk Band, Bones and even ZZ Top. He always invited rising talent to record on his albums and play at his shows, particularly female musicians. He loved the sounds of Middle Eastern music and opera, collaborating with artists such as Nitin Sawhney and Pavarotti, recreating their songs and melodies on his Stratocaster.
John and I love all types of music and have been to more shows than I can count. There was something magical, however, about a Jeff Beck show. He had the ability to become one with his guitar, the music and the musicians he was collaborating with at the time, creating sounds, feelings and emotions that defied words, which is the definition of great art.
We were lucky enough to have witnessed most of his collaborations and were looking forward to attending one of his shows again in the near future. Of course, like so many, we were devastated upon hearing of his recent passing; but as my husband reminded me, we were fortunate to have seen him in concert so many times for so many years.
Jeff Beck never stopped touring and only got better with each show. He left this earth with people wanting to hear so much more. Goodbye Jeff Beck. You and your music will live on forever in our hearts, “cause we’ve ended as lovers.”