Happy Birthday, Jeff Beck

If you like classic rock of any kind you need to know Jeff Beck. He was the second guitarist for The Yardbirds, coming in to replace Eric Clapton after he’d left because the band was getting too commercial for him (Clapton was an absolute blues purist at the time). Since The Yardbirds featured as lead guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page in that order (and for a little while had both Beck and Page), people like to ask founding members, “Who was the best guitarist in your opinion?” In a recent interview, one of them said Beck was the most fun. His playing was crazy and unpredictable — he might do anything, and when it worked, it was great (okay, it didn’t always work). Beck was the first guitarist to use fuzztone, feedback, and distortion in rock guitar. Here he is covering The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life”:

And Page, Beck, and Clapton performing “Stairway to Heaven.” The other two don’t show up until about 9:30:

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