Jeff Beck, Guitar God with Las Vegas Ties, Dies at 78

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Jeff Beck – a guitar virtuoso who influenced multiple generations of rock stars and pushed the boundaries of blues, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll – has died. He was 78.

Jeff Beck performs in 2014 at the Joint at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas. (Image:

Beck died Tuesday after “suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis,” his representatives said in a statement released Wednesday. His location at the time was not immediately known.

Though Beck was not known for his associations with Las Vegas, he had a few. As a solo artist, he performed in 1999 and 2014 at the Joint at the Hard Rock, in 1999, 2001, and 2006 at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, and in 2003 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Beck’s final Las Vegas appearance was on Nov. 4, 2012, at the Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms. It was part of a national tour opened by his pal Johnny Depp, who joined Beck every night to sing songs from a recent musical collaboration of theirs called 18.

Beck songs also appeared on the soundtracks to the classic Las Vegas movies Casino and Honeymoon in Vegas.

Beck in the Saddle

Beck first came to prominence as a member of the Yardbirds, in which he was the meat in a sandwich of two guitarists who went on to achieve much greater glory than him. Eric Clapton shredded for the Yardbirds before Beck, Jimmy Page after him.

Beck then formed a solo band, the Jeff Beck Group, which featured a singer who also achieved more fame than him (Rod Stewart). After that, in 1975, Beck switched to a mainly instrumental style, keeping all attention focused on his guitar chops.

True music fans never cared about Beck’s record sales anyway. They admired his reliably fanciful fretwork as it veered from hard rock to jazz, blues, funk, and even opera. (He once backed Luciano Pavarotti.) In Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” Beck ranked fifth, behind only Jimi Hendrix, Clapton, Page, and Keith Richards.

“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 won eight Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, once with the Yardbirds and once as a solo artist.

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