When Jeff Beck came to L.A.’s El Rey Theater in April of 2009 it had been 40 years since the original Jeff Beck Group dissolved and he’d parted ways with Rod Stewart. The guitarist and singer had a couple of brief reunions in the 1980s, but they hadn’t spoken in years and odds seemed pretty slim that things would change anytime soon. Shortly before the show, however, Stewart got a phone call saying that Beck was hoping he could come down to sing a couple of songs with his band.
Beck feigned complete shock when Stewart came out to sing a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready,” but they’d actually run through it a soundcheck. “It was really fucking great,” Stewart wrote in his memoir Rod: The Autobiography. “By the end Jeff, bless him, was in tears and we have each other a big old hug.” Check out video of the big moment right here.
Before that night, their most recent reunion was in 1984 when Beck played guitar on Stewart’s hit “Infatuation.” The next year, they recorded “People Get Ready” and saw that also fly up the charts. Stewart took Beck on the road, and the guitarist would come out in the middle of the night for a mini-set of Jeff Beck Group classics and their new hits. It seemed like the beginning of a whole new chapter of their partnership.
“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.”
After that debacle, they didn’t really reconnect in until after the El Rey Theater performance in 2009. They began emailing and chatting on the phone. A plan was put in place to record an album of blues songs. They each made a series of demos, but both parties were unsatisfied with the results. Meanwhile, Rod signed a deal with Universal and they were much more interested in a Christmas album or a country album than a Jeff Beck blues album. The project slowly died. “Jeff felt he’d wasted his time,” Stewart wrote in his book. “We haven’t spoken since.”