Media Contacts: Emily Gowdey-Backus, Emily_GowdeyBackus@uml.edu and Nancy Cicco, Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu
Jeff Beck, the guitarist whose power punk and blues instincts fueled rock ‘n’ roll’s British invasion in the 1960s and beyond, was an “iconoclast and individualist” who evaded stardom through self-determination, according to UMass Lowell music business expert Alan Williams.
Beck passed away Wednesday after a bout with bacterial meningitis, according to a statement posted on the musician’s verified Instagram account. He was 78.
“Jeff Beck was one of rock’s first stardom renunciants, stepping off the glory/gravy train every time it pulled into the success station. He was an iconoclast, a determined individualist not to be contained or defined by genre. He was too weird for blues purism, too angular for pop, bored with the template he created with both the Yardbirds and the Jeff Beck Group that Jimmy Page would soon build into Led Zeppelin. He courted jazz fusion but eschewed the mathematical mysticism of the Mahavishnu Orchestra for idiosyncratic takes on the Beatles and Stevie Wonder,” said Williams, a music professor who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years.
Beck came to prominence in 1965 when he replaced guitarist Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds. Beck was elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 as a member of that group and again in 2009 as a solo artist. The Recording Academy honored his work with eight Grammys and the British Academy recognized him with its Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music in 2014.
“There are no Jeff Beck acolytes, though his influence on the guitar world is immense; he was too much his own man to have clones and imitators. As such, his legacy will be in the varied pathways he pointed to, which others cleared and traveled,” Williams said.
Williams is available to discuss Beck’s impact and legacy, along with the many bands the guitarist founded and collaborated with, which continue to influence music and artists today.
He leads UMass Lowell’s music business program, where he fosters the next generation of leaders in the profession, sharing his talents and knowledge as a songwriter, bandleader, sound engineer and record producer.
To arrange an interview with him, contact Emily Gowdey-Backus or Nancy Cicco.