Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck are reuniting for a special show at L.A.’s Hollywood Bowl on September 27th. According to a press release, it will be “their most in depth concert in over 35 years.” Stewart and Beck formed the Jeff Beck Group in 1967, but disbanded two years later after recording just a couple of albums. They have briefly reunited over the years – most notably in 1985 when they recorded a cover of “People Get Ready” – but have been largely estranged over the past ten years.
The Hollywood Bowl show will mark their first onstage appearance together since 2009 when Rod Stewart made a surprise entrance at Beck’s show at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles to sing “People Get Ready.” “It was really fucking great,” Stewart wrote in his autobiography. “By the end Jeff, bless him, was in tears and we gave each other a big old hug.”
The reunion lead to a series of phone calls and e-mails where they discussed the possibility of recording an album of blues together. Demos were exchanged, but the project quickly fizzled out. “I am mildly interested,” Beck told Rolling Stone when asked about it at the time. “But it would have to be a genuine effort – not a weekend blues album.”
The aborted project brought back memories of 1984 when Stewart attempted to bring Beck on the road as his opening act on an arena tour. Midway through the his set, Stewart planned on bringing the guitarist out for a short set of their classics.
“The problem with this, from the outset, was that it all too obviously cast Jeff in a supporting role, which he was pretty much guaranteed to hate, however handsomely remunerated,” Stewart wrote in his book. “The tour was set for 74 dates over four months. Behind the scenes, a lot of people were muttering and saying, ‘This is doomed — he won’t last two shows.’ But they were all wrong. He lasted three. And then he left, saying something about how the audience were all housewives, which was a little bit rude of the old scamp.”
Decades of history seemed to suggest that the two men simply couldn’t work together for any extended period of time. They didn’t even speak for many years after the blues album fell apart, but Stewart told Rolling Stone late last year he still hoped the could find a way to create an album. “It would be a lovely thing to do,” he said. “It’d be a complete lefthand turn. We did try it once, but we couldn’t see eye to eye — I mean, a serious clash of egos, but you know, never say never. I know it’s a cliché, but really, I’m up for it if he’s up for it. The thing is, we both want to produce. That’s the thing.”
It’s unclear at the moment if this Hollywood Bowl set will be just another brief one-off, or the beginning of a collaboration that could lead to their first album together in over 50 years. Fans have been teased many times before, but maybe now that they’re both in their mid-70s they are ready to put their egos aside and finally make something new together. If not, at least they’ll share a stage at least one more time.