Jeff Beck, Legendary Rock Guitarist, Dead at 78

The famed musician died on Jan. 10 after contracting bacterial meningitis.

Jeff Beck, the legendary guitarist and leader of the Jeff Beck Group, died on Tuesday. He was 78. The rocker’s family released a statement revealing he died after contracting bacterial meningitis.  

"On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing. After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss," the statement, shared across Beck's verified social media accounts, read.  

Beck rose to fame when he joined the Yardbirds, after replacing Eric Clapton in 1965. Upon leaving the group, he formed the Jeff Beck Group, which was fronted by Rod Stewart for a brief period. Through multiple iterations and member changes, the Jeff Beck Group released Truth (1968), Beck-Ola (1969), Rough and Ready (1971) and The Jeff Beck Group (1972). 

Over the course of his career, the known in-studio perfectionist would go on to play for various artists, including Herbie Hancock, as well as release a series of solo works. In 2010, Beck released Emotion and Commotion, which was his highest-charting album in 35 years. 

Beck is a two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. The guitarist was inducted as a member of the Yardbirds in 1992 and as a solo artist in 2009.  He was also an eight-time GRAMMY winner.

In 2020, he began collaborating and performing live with Johnny Depp. In 2022, following the verdict in favor of Depp in his trial against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, the actor joined Beck onstage.  

The two men spent the last half of 2022 playing and touring Europe in support of their joint album, 18. In October, Beck’s official Instagram account shared a photo of him and Depp from the road.  

“Jeff & Johnny 🎸 pic by Jordan Grobe,” the caption read. So far, Depp has not spoken out about Beck’s death.

Beck was recently nominated in the Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance categories at the GRAMMYs for his work with Ozzy Osbourne. 

Beck is survived by his wife, Sandra Beck.  

Following the news of his death, tributes from Beck's famous colleagues poured in:

Todd Sucherman, Styx drummer, shared a statement with ET, saying, "Jeff was untouchable. What he conjured out of a guitar with his bare hands with ho effects or digital help was astonishing. He could make a guitar sound like a human voice- an angel singing- and the next moment it was a growl of a demon. It was all in his hands. You couldn’t help but to marvel at his magic. He was also a lovey human who had great stories and you felt a great warmth in his presence. A giant. The word “genius” is tossed around too much, but he was indeed a colossal genius."

Tommy Shaw, Styx guitarist, also shared a statement on Beck's legacy with ET, writing, "The world lost a magnificent instrumentalist yesterday.  A guitar in Jeff Beck’s lyrical hands had the power of touching our souls in ways we never heard before. It hurts to know he’s physically gone, But he’s left us a lot to remember him by."

Shaw continued, "The heavenly Rock n Roll band has a new angelic voice unlike any other. Rock on as boldly into eternity Jeff Beck, as you did here on Earth."