Jeff Beck Opens Up About Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Gigs With Clapton, Jeff Beck Group Reunion

January 16, 2009 3:35 PM ET

Twenty-one years ago Jeff Beck was involuntary dragged onstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to play "Satisfaction" and "Like A Rolling Stone" alongside the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, George Harrison, the Beach Boys and countless other A-listers. "It was one of the worse cacophonies I've ever heard in my entire life," Beck says on the phone from Western Australia, where he's rehearing for a tour. "Just horrendous."

On April, 4th Beck will have the stage all to himself when he's inducted as a solo artist, 17 years after he was honored as part of the Yardbirds. "I couldn't believe I was even nominated," Beck says. "I thought the Yardbirds was as close as I'd get to getting in. I've gone on long after that and gone through different musical changes. It's very nice to hear that people have been listening." He plans to perform at the ceremony with his band, and is currently looking at booking American shows around the event.

The induction comes at a busy time for the 64-year-old guitar virtuoso. At the tail end of his Australia/Japan tour he has two shows booked in Saitama-shi, Japan, with the man he replaced in the Yardbirds: Eric Clapton. "It was unthinkable we'd ever play together other than the [1983] Arms charity concert," Beck says. "He came to play on a couple of numbers I did at Ronnie Scott's last year and it was really good fun. There was no sort of 'I'm better than you' thing going on." What will the shows be like? "We'll do two separate sets and we'll link arms in the end," says Beck. "Each night will end with a collaboration. How long, I won't know. We're working on suitable material, neutral material." Might they break out some Yardbirds gems? "Eric doesn't like the Yardbirds," says Beck. "I don't think he'll go back that far."

Beck is willing to consider more shows with Clapton, but fans of the original Jeff Beck Group shouldn't hold their breath for a reunion. In 2004 Rod Stewart told Rolling Stone about rehearsal sessions he had with Beck and Ron Wood for a charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall:

"Woody was playing bass and I was singing and it sounded fucking brilliant," Stewart said. "We did 'Rock My Plimsoul' and 'I Ain't Superstitious,' and everybody was glued to it. But Jeff phoned me up two days before the show and said he didn't want to do it. He canceled. I've given up trying to reunite the Jeff Beck Group."

When told about Rod's desire for a Jeff Beck Group reunion, Beck starts laughing. "That's what Rod said?" he chuckles. "They're still full of shit after all these years. I saw Rod recently at Kenny Jones' birthday party. He made a mockery of people asking if we'd reform, though I guess I'm not sure if he was talking about us or the Faces. Reformation of bands is never my idea of a good idea. Leave well enough alone, especially 35 years after it happened. It usually indicates there isn't anything else happening in someone else's career, otherwise you wouldn't entertain it — let's face it. We weren't together in the heyday of money. We were playing small clubs and dives and broke up just before Woodstock, so we never had any big money gigs. It would be fun if we did it in private to see if it would sound any good, but leave it well enough alone and remember it for being groundbreaking at the time."

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