The rock star, who just weeks ago finished touring with the actor, died ‘peacefully’ on Tuesday aged 78 after contracting bacterial meningitis.
His family shared the heartbreaking news on his Twitter page along with a picture of the star on stage with his trademark shades and guitar.
The former Yardbirds star had just completed a transatlantic tour with Depp as they promoted their debut album ’18’, which is nominated for three Brit Awards.
Johnny Depp was at the bedside of legendary British guitarist Jeff Beck (pictured together on November 6 in California, the last image of them together) before he passed away and has been left ‘totally devastated’ by his death, it is understood
Beck pictured with members of his eponymous group in 1967, Aynsley Dunbar on the left, Rod Stewart behind him and Ronnie Wood on the right
The rock star (pictured in Michigan in 2018) passed away ‘peacefully’ on Tuesday aged 78 after contracting bacterial meningitis
Depp, third from the left, and Beck, second from left, became close friends in recent years and were seen out drinking with fellow musician Sam Fender, fourth from left, in Newcastle last summer
A source told People Magazine that Depp and Beck were friends, with the Pirates of the Caribbean star visiting him at his hospital bedside.
‘They had a really tight friendship, they were extremely close, and he got even closer over this past summer when they were touring together.
‘The sickness came on really quickly and it all deteriorated rapidly in the last couple weeks. Johnny is still processing this news. He’s devastated.’
Representatives for Depp have been approached for comment.
The pair performed together in Europe and the United States and released what is now Beck’s final album during his lifetime, ’18’.
Beck and Depp were seen out drinking in Newcastle together with fellow musician Sam Fender last year.
British rockers including Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger who were also close with the star have led tributes overnight.
Jagger tweeted: ‘With the death of Jeff Beck we have lost a wonderful man and one of the greatest guitar players in the world. We will all miss him so much.’
Rolling Stones bandmate Ronnie Wood added: ‘Now Jeff has gone, I feel like one of my band of brothers has left this world, and I’m going to dearly miss him.
‘I’m sending much sympathy to Sandra, his family, and all who loved him. I want to thank him for all our early days together in Jeff Beck Group, conquering America.’
Stars from the music world paid tribute to Beck on Twitter
Sir Rod also tweeted: ‘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.’
A statement from Beck’s agent read: ‘On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing.
‘After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.’
A representative said that Beck had been ill over the holiday period and passed away at a hospital close to his home in Surrey.
Just weeks ago the former Yardbirds star finished a transatlantic tour with Depp as they promoted their debut album ’18’ (pictured together in New York in October)
Beck and Depp performing songs from their debut album in New York in October
Beck pictured with his second wife Sandra Cash in 2008
Beck is survived by his second wife, Sandra.
The pair married in 2005 when he was 61 and Sandra was 41 in Tunbridge Wells with Sir Paul McCartney among the guests.
Sandra designed the album cover artwork for Beck’s collaboration with Depp, which features the pair as teenagers on the cover.
Beck said of the sleeve: ‘When Johnny and I started playing together, it really ignited our youthful spirit and creativity. We would joke about how we felt 18 again, so that just became the album title too.’
Beck and Depp first met in 2016 and bonded over their love of guitars. They agreed to work on an album together in 2019.
Beck made headlines while touring last last year when he brought Depp on stage to perform with him in the wake of Depp’s defamation trial with Amber Heard.
Some fans were left disgruntled that the 58-year-old actor had spent so much of the gig performing, with one saying they ‘did not come here to see Depp’.
Music critic Neil McCormick wrote in the Telegraph: ‘[Depp] may not be the greatest vocalist but he knows how to deliver a song,’ adding that ‘Depp’s presence added pizzazz and created a space for Beck to shine more brightly’.
Austin Delord, a Beck fan, said: ‘Too much Johnny Depp, we did not come here to see him. Bit of a publicity stunt, he did not bring much to the party, but he took away so much from Beck.’
‘I haven’t had another creative partner like him for ages,’ Beck said of Depp. ‘He was a major force on this record. I just hope people will take him seriously as a musician because it’s a hard thing for some people to accept that Johnny Depp can sing rock and roll.’
Beck pictured in 1967 prior to the release of his first solo single, Tallyman
Beck, on the left pictured, with fellow Yardbirds members Paul Samwell-Smith, Keith Relf, Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja
In June 2014, Beck was forced to cancel a European tour after being rushed to hospital for an undisclosed medical procedure. Despite this, he took a break for just six weeks and returned to touring that August.
Beck was asked about his health in a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone. He said: ‘I’m fit as a fiddle. Eric [Clapton’s] got a nerve complaint. It sounds horrible. It would be so sad if it impairs his playing. I did sprain my wrist, carrying something heavy. And I have a bad back. They had to operate in the lower back. As long as I rest every so often – lie flat – I’m fine. But I keep lifting stuff.’
Among those paying tribute to Beck was Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi who tweeted: ‘Jeff was such a nice person and an outstanding iconic, genius guitar player — there will never be another Jeff Beck.’
Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne tweeted: ‘I can’t express how saddened I am to hear of Jeff Beck’s passing. What a terrible loss for his family, friends & his many fans. It was such an honor to have known Jeff and an incredible honor to have had him play on my most recent album.’
Beck was nominated for a 2023 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song for his work on Ozzy Osbourne’s Patient Number 9.
Kiss singer Gene Simmons described Beck’s passing as ‘heartbreaking news,’ adding: ‘Nobody played guitar like Jeff. Please get ahold of the first two Jeff Beck Group albums and behold greatness. RIP.’
Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck perform during the Crossroads Guitar Festival at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, in June 2010
Beck pictured with Queen guitarist Brian May in 2006
Jeff Beck and Mick Jagger (right) pose at the mixing desk in Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum, Netherlands while working on Mick Jagger’s solo album, Primitive Cool in 1986
Beck came to prominence as a member of the Yardbirds and then went embarked on a solo career that incorporated hard rock, jazz, funky blues and even opera.
He was known for his improvising, love of harmonics and the whammy bar on his preferred guitar, the Fender Stratocaster.
‘Jeff Beck is the best guitar player on the planet,’ Joe Perry, the lead guitarist of Aerosmith, told The New York Times in 2010. ‘He is head, hands and feet above all the rest of us, with the kind of talent that appears only once every generation or two.’
Beck was among the rock-guitarist pantheon from the late ’60s that included Clapton, Page – who was introduced to Beck by his sister Annetta when they were teenagers – and Jimi Hendrix.
Beck won eight Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice – once with the Yardbirds in 1992 and again as a solo artist in 2009.
He was ranked fifth in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
Beck told the New Statesman in 2010 that he’d insured his thumbs for and fingers for $8.5million after chopping off the tip of his left index finger making stew.
Beck played guitar with vocalists as varied as Luciano Pavarotti, Macy Gray, Chrissie Hynde, Joss Stone, Imelda May, Cyndi Lauper, Wynonna Judd and Buddy Guy.
He made two records with Rod Stewart – 1968’s ‘Truth’ and 1969’s ‘Beck-Ola’ – and one with a 64-piece orchestra, ‘Emotion & Commotion’.
Beck told Guitar World in 2014: ‘I like an element of chaos in music. That feeling is the best thing ever, as long as you don’t have too much of it. It’s got to be in balance.
‘I just saw Cirque du Soleil, and it struck me as complete organized chaos. If I could turn that into music, it’s not far away from what my ultimate goal would be, which is to delight people with chaos and beauty at the same time.’
Beck’s career highlights include joining with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice to create the power trio that released ‘Beck, Bogert and Appice’ in 1973, tours with Brian Wilson and Buddy Guy and a tribute album to the late guitarist Les Paul, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Party (Honoring Les Paul).’
Beck was born Geoffrey Arnold Beck in Surrey, England, and attended Wimbledon Art College.
His father was an accountant, and his mother worked in a chocolate factory. As a boy, he built his first instrument using a cigar box, a picture frame for the neck and string from a radio-controlled toy airplane.
He was in a few bands – including Nightshift and The Tridents – before joining the Yardbirds in 1965, replacing Clapton but only a year later giving way to Page.
During his tenure, the band created the memorable singles ‘Heart Full of Soul’, ‘I’m a Man’ and ‘Shapes of Things’.
Beck’s first hit single was 1967’s instrumental ‘Beck’s Bolero,’ which featured future Led Zeppelin members Page and John Paul Jones, and future Who drummer Keith Moon. The Jeff Beck Group – with Stewart singing – was later booked to play the 1969 Woodstock music festival but their appearance was canceled. Beck later said there was unrest in the band.
‘I could see the end of the tunnel,’ he told Rolling Stone in 2010.
Beck was friends with Hendrix and they performed together. Before Hendrix, most rock guitar players concentrated on a similar style and technical vocabulary. Hendrix blew that apart.
‘He came along and reset all of the rules in one evening,’ Beck told Guitar World.
Beck teamed up with legendary producer George Martin – a.k.a. ‘the fifth Beatle’ – to help him fashion the genre-melding, jazz-fusion classic ‘Blow by Blow’ (1975) and ‘Wired’ (1976).
He teamed up with Seal on the Hendrix tribute ‘Stone Free’, created a jazz-fusion group led by synthesizer player Jan Hammer and honored rockabilly guitarist Cliff Gallup with the album ‘Crazy Legs.’ He put out ‘Loud Hailer’ in 2016.
Joe Perry, the lead guitarist of Aerosmith, told The New York Times in 2010: ‘Jeff Beck is the best guitar player on the planet. He is head, hands and feet above all the rest of us, with the kind of talent that appears only once every generation or two.’
Beck’s guitar work can be heard on the soundtracks of such films as ‘Stomp the Yard’, ‘Shallow Hal’, ‘Casino’, ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’, ‘Twins’, ‘Observe and Report’ and ‘Little Big League’.
Beck’s career never hit the commercial highs of Clapton. A perfectionist, he preferred to make critically well-received instrumental records and left the limelight for long stretches, enjoying his time restoring vintage automobiles.
He and Clapton had a tense relationship early on but became friends in later life and toured together. Beck said in 2018 that Clapton’s tense feelings was over his collaborations with Stevie Wonder.
‘I found out later from Pattie, his wife, that there definitely was [rivalry] – especially with the Stevie Wonder stuff. He was not too amused about me doing something successful with Stevie. I think that maybe got under his skin a bit.’
Beck and fellow guitar hero Eric Clapton had a tense relationship early on but became friends in later life and toured together. Beck said in 2018 that the tension was over his collaborations with Stevie Wonder
Clapton and Beck eventually toured together, putting aside any rivalry, seen here onstage during the 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival at Toyota Park in Illinois
Beck considered the rivalry one-sided, however, saying ‘I just thought he’s got the blues covered. And he’s also got some very good pop songs. And I don’t have either, really. I’m not committed to putting myself up for a blues guitarist, even though I love playing the blues.’
He was later asked why the two waited some four decades to tour together.
‘Because we were all trying to be big bananas,’ Beck told Rolling Stone in 2010. ‘Except I didn’t have the luxury of the hit songs Eric’s got.’
Beck was the self-made son of working class parents who built himself into a guitar legend and became known as an outlier in an age of excess, while still dating his share of glamorous women along the way.
Jeff Beck – seen here with his wife Sandra – was the self-made son of working class parents who built himself into a guitar legend and became known as an outlier in an age of excess
Beck was married to first wife Patricia Brown from 1963 to 1967
Beck is survived by his wife, Sandra. He was married to first wife Patricia Brown from 1963 – when Beck was just 19 – to 1967.
He previously dated model Celia Hammond, who spent her life after modelling saving thousands of cats and opening animal shelters.
The rock icon remained friendly with Hammond and even became a patron of one of her animal shelters as part of the Celia Hammond Animal Trust.
She once told DailyMail.com of a vacation to Hollywood with Beck where she found a couple of wild cats in the hotel garden and spent the whole stay scouring LA for a cat trap.
Hammond appeared on the record sleeve of Jeff Beck’s solo album Truth, an album that included contributions from Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and John Paul Jones.
They broke up at some point in the 1970s that coincided with a period of ‘musical and commercial crisis’ for Beck, according to The Times.
Beck dated model Celia Hammond, seen here in a 1968 photo
Hammond appeared on the record sleeve of Jeff Beck’s solo album Truth, an album that included contributions from Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and John Paul Jones
Beck also had a long-term relationship with former British TV presenter Julia Carling, who said she lost her virginity to Beck when she was 18 and he was 39.
They dated for six years – when she was known as Julia Smith – and even lived together, according to the Evening Standard.
However, she said that the relationship became isolating, before the pair broke up in 1989.
‘I lost contact with my friends,’ Smith said. ‘There was no one of my age group around me. I was on my own a lot and lonely. It toughened me up.’ She said. ‘He wasn’t a father figure. I learned a lot from him, but he wanted me to be a mother to him. I just wasn’t strong enough for that.’
Carling went on to marry England rugby captain Ben Carling. The marriage dissolved in 1995 amid rumors of an affair with Princess Diana.
Beck dated former British TV presenter Julia Carling, who said she lost her virginity to Beck when she was 18 and he was 39
Beck and Carling, then Julia Smith, dated for six years and lived together
Carling said that the relationship became isolating, before the pair broke up in 1989
Jeff Beck at the Montreux Jazz Festival last year
He also dated American model Heather Daltrey, then Heather Taylor, who went on to marry the legendary The Who frontman and was the inspiration for Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’
He also dated American model Heather Daltrey, then Heather Taylor, who went on to marry the legendary The Who frontman and was the inspiration for Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’.
Beck was known for his improvising, love of harmonics and the whammy bar on his preferred guitar, the Fender Stratocaster.
In perhaps the most legendary era of rock n’ roll excess, Beck rebelled, telling Rolling Stone in 2018 he’d never performed under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
‘I understand how easily one could go down that road. But I’m one of those people that could never even imagine walking on a stage [intoxicated]. I did it one time, albeit in a small village hall, and my legs gave way as I walked up the steps,’ he said.
In 2014, Beck received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music.
Beck nearly joined two iconic rock groups, as Nick Mason of Pink Floyd once said the band wanted Beck to replace the late Syd Barrett, while the Rolling Stones considered him as a replacement for Brian Jones.
He also famously played at David Bowie’s final show performing as Ziggy Stardust in 1973 and was featured in a cut of the movie aired on ABC in 1974 but was deleted from the final cut, allegedly not liking his clothes or performance and worried how appearing in a glam rock film would affect his reputation.
Stevie Wonder, cause of Beck’s tense relationship with Clapton, originally had written his classic smash hit ‘Superstition’ for Beck to perform, according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
Stevie Wonder, cause of Beck’s tense relationship with Clapton, originally had written his classic smash hit ‘Superstition’ for Beck to perform. The pair are seen together in 2011
Beck, third from left, is seen with the likes of Ringo Starr, Mick Ronson and then-girlfriend Celia Hammond (second from left) at the final show David Bowie performed as Ziggy Stardust in 1973
Beck said Wonder ‘basically wrote it for me, but the story goes that he loved it a bit too much. No, he played it to Motown, and they said, ‘No way is Beck getting this song, it’s too good’ and, as they had the right to say what Stevie released at that time, I lost the song as an original.’
The legendary piano player’s version of the story suggested that he was going to allow Beck to release his version of the song first, but it was bogged down by delays.
The two eventually made peace and continued to collaborate together, even performing ‘Superstition’ together at the 25th anniversary of the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
‘That was the right decision but we were gutted, you know, totally,’ he said. ‘We would have had a monstrous, monstrous hit.’
He also made two records with Rod Stewart – 1968’s ‘Truth’ and 1969’s ‘Beck-Ola’ – and one with a 64-piece orchestra, ‘Emotion & Commotion.’
Later in his career, he appeared playing guitar on Jon Bon Jovi’s ‘Blaze of Glory,’ which won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song from a motion picture.
Beck – seen here in 1984 – died Tuesday after ‘suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis,’ his representatives said in a statement released Wednesday
Beck (pictured right) first came to prominence as a member of the Yardbirds and then went out on his own in a solo career that incorporated hard rock, jazz, funky blues and even opera
Jeff Beck performs during ‘Stars Align Tour’ at Chastain Park Amphitheater on August 22, 2018 in Atlanta
English guitarist Jeff Beck performing at a Crystal Palace Garden Party event, Crystal Palace Bowl, London, 1972
Jeff Beck and Stevie Ray Vaughn pose for a portrait circa 1985 in Los Angeles
Roger Taylor, Brian May and Jeff Beck attend the Freddie For A Day 65th birthday anniversary party at The Savoy Hotel on September 5, 2011 in London
Jeff Beck performs during the ARMS Charity Concerts which were a series of charitable rock concerts in support of Action into Research for Multiple Sclerosis in 1983
Jeff Beck’s fans have spoken of their disappointment that he performed alongside Johnny Depp at the Royal Albert Hall in London, with some complaining he ‘took away so much’ from the guitarist they had paid to see
WHAT IS BACTERIAL MENINGITIS?
Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the membranes (meninges) that protect the spinal cord and brain.
It requires urgent treatment at hospital with antibiotics.
Some 10 per cent of bacterial cases are fatal.
When the membranes become infected, they swell and press on the spinal cord or brain.
This can cause life-threatening problems, which strike suddenly and worsen quickly.
It can lead to brain damage, paralysis, or stroke. In some cases, it can be fatal.
Bacteria or a virus can cause meningitis. Viral meningitis is more common, but bacterial meningitis is more serious.
Experts don’t always know why meningitis happens. Some people get it when their immune system is weak or they’ve recently been sick. A head injury may also increase risk.
Bacterial meningitis is more common in infants under one and people aged 16 to 21. College students living in dorms or other close quarters are at increased risk.
Also at risk are adults with certain medical problems, including those without a spleen.
Of those who survive, one in three suffer complications, including brain damage and hearing loss.
Limb amputation is a potential side effect if septicaemia (blood poisoning) occurs.
Vaccines are available against certain strains of bacteria that cause meningitis, such as tuberculosis.
The most common symptoms of bacterial meningitis are:
- Painful, stiff neck with limited range of motion
- High fever
- Feeling confused or sleepy
- Bruising easily all over the body
- A rash on the skin
- Sensitivity to light
These are symptoms to look for in children:
- Vomiting from a high fever
- Frequent crying
- Swelling of the head
- Lack of appetite
- Seizures (sometimes also seen in adults if the meningitis is advanced)