Johnny Depp, Sir Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood turned out to say a final farewell to one of rock’s all time greats Jeff Beck at his funeral in South London on Friday.
The late star was laid to rest at St Mary’s Church in Beddington, Sutton, with a host of rock royalty attending to pay their final respects.
The Pretenders’ founding member Chrissie Hynde, Welsh singing legend Sir Tom Jones, blues-rock guitarist Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and Boomtown Rats lead singer Sir Bob Geldof all turned out to pay their respects.
Comedians Harry Enfield and Vic Reeves also attended today’s funeral.
Beck passed away ‘peacefully’ on January 11, aged 78, after contracting bacterial meningitis.
After his death, it emerged that the trailblazing rock star – whose colossal career saw him share the stage with some of music’s biggest names – was also loved as ‘just a nice bloke’ by his neighbours in East Sussex – who would see him pottering around the Co-op and supporting the local wildlife charity.
Weeks prior to his death, the former Yardbirds star finished a transatlantic tour with Johnny Depp as they promoted their debut album ’18’.
The album is nominated for three Brit Awards in the UK.
A representative for the man regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, said that Beck had been ill over the holiday period and passed away at a hospital close to his home in Surrey.
Beck is survived by his sixth wife, Sandra.
The pair married in 2005 when he was 61 and Sandra was 41 in Tunbridge Wells with Sir Paul McCartney among the guests.
Sandra designed the album cover artwork for Beck’s collaboration with Depp which features the pair as teenagers on the cover.
Beck said of the sleeve: ‘When Johnny and I started playing together, it really ignited our youthful spirit and creativity. We would joke about how we felt 18 again, so that just became the album title too.’
Beck and Depp first met in 2016 and bonded over their love of guitars. They finally agreed to work on an album together in 2019.
They became close friends in recent years and were seen out drinking in Britain together late last year.
In June 2014, Beck was forced to cancel a European tour after being rushed to a hospital for an undisclosed medical procedure.
Despite this, he only took a break for six weeks and returned to touring that August.
Beck was nominated for a 2023 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song for his work on Ozzy Osbourne’s Patient Number 9.
Geoffrey Arnold Beck was born in Surrey, England, and attended Wimbledon Art College.
He sang in his church choir at the age of 10 before becoming obsessed with the guitar.
His father was an accountant, and his mother worked in a chocolate factory. As a boy, he built his first instrument, using a cigar box, a picture frame for the neck and string from a radio-controlled toy airplane.
He was married to first wife Patricia Brown from 1963 – when Beck was just 19 – to 1967.
He previously dated model Celia Hammond, who spent her life after a model saving thousands of cats and opening animal shelters.
The rock icon remained friendly with Hammond and even became a patron of one of her animal shelters as part of the Celia Hammond Animal Trust.
Beck the musician was known for his improvising, love of harmonics and the whammy bar on his preferred guitar, the Fender Stratocaster.
In perhaps the most legendary era of rock n’ roll excess, Beck was a bit of an teetotaler, telling Rolling Stone in 2018 he’d never performed under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
‘I understand how easily one could go down that road. But I’m one of those people that could never even imagine walking on a stage [intoxicated]. I did it one time, albeit in a small village hall, and my legs gave way as I walked up the steps,’ he joked.
He first came to prominence as a member of the Yardbirds – replacing Eric Clapton at the recommendation of friend Jimmy Page and then went out on his own in a solo career that incorporated hard rock, jazz, funky blues and even opera.
Beck was among the rock-guitarist pantheon from the late ´60s that included Clapton, Page – who was introduced to Beck by his sister Annetta when they were teenagers – and Jimi Hendrix.
He and fellow guitar icon Clapton had a tense relationship early on but became friends later in life and toured together.
Beck said in 2018 that Clapton’s tense feelings was over his collaborations with Stevie Wonder.
‘I found out later from Pattie, his wife, that there definitely was [rivalry] – especially with the Stevie Wonder stuff. He was not too amused about me doing something successful with Stevie. I think that maybe got under his skin a bit.’
Beck’s career never hit the commercial highs of Clapton. A perfectionist, he preferred to make critically well-received instrumental records and left the limelight for long stretches, enjoying his time restoring vintage automobiles.
Beck said Wonder ‘basically wrote it for me, but the story goes that he loved it a bit too much. No, he played it to Motown, and they said, ‘No way is Beck getting this song, it’s too good’ and, as they had the right to say what Stevie released at that time, I lost the song as an original.’
The legendary piano player’s version of the story suggested that he was going to allow Beck to release his version of the song first, but it was bogged down by delays.
The two eventually made peace and continued to collaborate together, even performing ‘Superstition’ together at the 25th anniversary of the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
‘That was the right decision but we were gutted, you know, totally,’ he said. ‘We would have had a monstrous, monstrous hit.’
He also made two records with Rod Stewart – 1968’s ‘Truth’ and 1969’s ‘Beck-Ola’ – and one with a 64-piece orchestra, ‘Emotion & Commotion.’
Later in his career, he appeared playing guitar on Jon Bon Jovi’s ‘Blaze of Glory,’ which won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song from a motion picture.
‘I like an element of chaos in music. That feeling is the best thing ever, as long as you don’t have too much of it. It’s got to be in balance. I just saw Cirque du Soleil, and it struck me as complete organized chaos,’ he told Guitar World in 2014.
‘If I could turn that into music, it’s not far away from what my ultimate goal would be, which is to delight people with chaos and beauty at the same time.’
Beck career highlights include joining with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice to create the power trio that released ‘Beck, Bogert and Appice’ in 1973, tours with Brian Wilson and Buddy Guy and a tribute album to the late guitarist Les Paul, ‘Rock `n´ Roll Party (Honoring Les Paul).’
He was in a few bands – including Nightshift and The Tridents – before joining the Yardbirds in 1965, replacing Clapton but only a year later giving way to Page.
During his tenure, the band created the memorable singles ‘Heart Full of Soul,’ ‘I´m a Man’ and ‘Shapes of Things.’
Beck’s first hit single was 1967’s instrumental ‘Beck´s Bolero,’ which featured future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, and future Who drummer Keith Moon.
The Jeff Beck Group – with Stewart singing – was later booked to play the 1969 Woodstock music festival but their appearance was canceled. Beck later said there was unrest in the band.
‘I could see the end of the tunnel,’ he told Rolling Stone in 2010.
Beck was friends with Hendrix and they performed together. Before Hendrix, most rock guitar players concentrated on a similar style and technical vocabulary. Hendrix blew that apart.
‘He came along and reset all of the rules in one evening,’ Beck told Guitar World.
Beck teamed up with legendary producer George Martin – a.k.a. ‘the fifth Beatle’ – to help him fashion the genre-melding, jazz-fusion classic ‘Blow by Blow’ (1975) and ‘Wired’ (1976).
He teamed up with Seal on the Hendrix tribute ‘Stone Free,’ created a jazz-fusion group led by synthesizer player Jan Hammer and honored rockabilly guitarist Cliff Gallup with the album ‘Crazy Legs.’ He put out ‘Loud Hailer’ in 2016.
Beck’s guitar work can be heard on the soundtracks of such films as ‘Stomp the Yard,’ ‘Shallow Hal,’ ‘Casino,’ ‘Honeymoon in Vegas,’ ‘Twins,’ ‘Observe and Report’ and ‘Little Big League.’
He was most recently seen touring in 2022, making headlines along the way as he would bring Johnny Depp onstage to perform with him in the wake of Depp’s defamation trial with Amber Heard.[via]