Jeff Beck, Guitarist With a Chapter in Rock History, Dies at 78

A notable track on their 1973 debut album, “Beck, Bogert & Appice,” was a version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” But Mr. Beck was dissatisfied with both his band’s version of the song and the band itself, and so, during the recording of a second album, produced by Jimmy Miller, he broke up the group, although a live album, “Beck, Bogert & Appice Live in Japan,” came out afterward, in 1975 — a year that changed Mr. Beck’s career.

Daringly, Mr. Beck devoted most of the “Blow by Blow” solo album, recorded in 1974 and released in 1975, to instrumentals, inspired by the creativity of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the soaring work of the band’s fusion guitarist, John McLaughlin.

To help capture that group’s feel, Mr. Beck hired the producer George Martin, who had overseen Mahavishnu’s album “Apocalypse” the year before (and who had achieved his greatest renown with the Beatles). Mr. Beck told The New Statesman magazine in 2016 that Mr. Martin had provided “a massive pair of wings.”

“Just knowing that somebody with such sensitive ears was approving of what was going on, you were flying,” he said.

Mr. Beck’s follow-up album, “Wired,” featured two players from Mahavishnu: the drummer Narada Michael Walden and the keyboardist Jan Hammer, expanding the fusion element in the music. Mr. Beck later toured with Mr. Hammer’s band, resulting in the album “Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live,” which went gold in 1977.

Mr. Hammer was also instrumental in Mr. Beck’s 1980 album, “There & Back,” which got to No. 21 on Billboard’s chart. In 1985, Mr. Beck returned to working with vocalists for his “Flash” album, on which Mr. Stewart sang a version of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.” (The video became an MTV hit.) Another instrumental recording, “Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop,” issued in 1989, became his final gold album.

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