“The only friends I had were pretty low-life,” Jeff Beck said, looking back at his childhood in newly unearthed audio of an interview with Rolling Stone’s Kory Grow. “They were one step away from jail, most of them. The guitar saved me from that.”
Beck – who died this week at the age 78 – looks back at his entire career, from the Yardbirds to the Jeff Beck Group to his fusion era and beyond in the interview, which can be heard in its entirety in the new episode of our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast. “I’ve never made the big time,” Beck said, “and mercifully, probably. When you look around and see who has made it huge, it’s a really rotten place to be when you think about it. Maybe I’m blessed with not having had that.”
The nearly two-hour-long tribute episode also features new interviews with three guitar legends: Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Vernon Reid of Living Colour, and Joe Satriani. Elsewhere in the episode, Andy Greene joins host Brian Hiatt to discuss Beck’s entire career.
“Jeff Beck probably stood out the most in terms of spontaneous, quirky, but melodic stuff,” says Campbell. “It was always surprising, like, ‘How’d he come up with that?’ Plus, he looked great!” Campbell also reveals one thing he had in common with Beck: Both of them kept guitars in their bathrooms, just in case.
“Jeff didn’t care about perfection,” says Reid. “He cared about inhabiting the space, the moment, the emotion… When he really plays with textures and just wrings all of this pathos out of the instrument, I mean, that’s extraordinary to me.”
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