100 Greatest Guitarists: David Fricke's Picks

From Jerry Garcia and Joan Jett to B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stone critic chooses the best and most influential guitarists in rock

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Jeff Beck

14. Jeff Beck

Beck was the second of the Yardbirds' three star guitarists, leading the group's swing into R&B- charged psychedelia ("Shapes of Things," "Over Under Sideways Down") with his speed and deft manipulation of feedback and sustain. In 1967, Beck formed his own heavier variation on the Yardbirds — the Jeff Beck Group, with then-unknown singer Rod Stewart — which added heavy-metal pow to British blues and became a major role model for Jimmy Page's Led Zeppelin. But Beck's commercial peak came in the mid-1970s, with an idiosyncratic style of jazz fusion (whiplash melodies; artful, roaring distortion; whammy-bar hysterics) that he still plays today with undiminished class and ferocity, when he isn't in his garage at home in England working under the hoods of vintage cars.

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