His musicianship defined rock guitar for me. He was the first major rock guitarist I saw live as The Jeff Beck Group in 1969 at The Fillmore East.
Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood, Mickey Waller, and Rod Stewart
I’ve seen him perform in concert twice since ’69. The night he played with his band at the 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concert in 2009 at Madison Square was over the Top 😉
We saw him the following year at the Garden again. He was on tour with Eric Clapton where they each did a set, collaborating together. The highlight of Jeff Beck’s performance was to bring a full orchestra to play “Nessun Dorma” (An aria from the last act of Giacomo Puccini’s opera, Turandot). His versatility has no bounds.
“Jeff takes the guitar to the furthest reaches of the guitar universe” -Jan Hammer”
He’s still on the run 49 years later. Catch him this summer with Ann Wilson (Heart) and Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company)
Still On The Run: The Jeff Beck Story documents the history of a musical maverick and true innovator, delving below the surface to shed light on the circumstances, inspiration and technicality behind the man and his music. The film features extensive interviews with Jeff both at home and in his workshop, as well as interviews with Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, David Gilmour, Ronnie Wood, Slash, Jan Hammer, Joe Perry, Beth Hart & many more.
One of the finest voices in classic rock music belongs to Ann Wilson of Heart. I have received periodic mailings about a new album she is working on officially titled Immortal, which appears near completion.
The theme of Immortal focuses on various tracks originally recorded by “artists who have departed in the last several years,” Wilson notes that the album’s name emphasizes an awareness that “the artists have left us, but their expressions live in our hearts for all time.”
The artists honored on Immortal include, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Tom Petty, Chris Cornell, Glenn Frey, Amy Winehouse, and Lesley Gore…
Surprise guests on the record features Jeff Beck on killer guitar! It just so happens that Ann Wilson will be touring with Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers this summer. Synchronicity.
Lots of new music from Ann Wilson and friends in the coming months ahead…
The year was 1969. I was a 17-year-old high school graduate living and working in Connecticut. I was a babe in the woods when it came to New York City and “Live” rock concerts. My music tastes were forged listening intently to progressive rock radio station WNEW-FM 102.7.
The Fillmore East was the goal I had to experience. Bill Graham’s magic venue was constantly advertised on WNEW which made that passion stronger in my soul.
A fellow Jethro Tull fanatic scored four tickets at $5.50@ for us to see The Jeff Beck Group, Jethro Tull and The Soft White Underbelly perform at The Fillmore East on July 3rd, 1969. I was pumped. I could finally see my first “live” rock concert and it would take place at The Fillmore East! Little did I realize it would be the first of 425+ concerts in the next 46 years I would attend. This concert changed my life from radio station listener to active music participant. I have loved and nurtured the role of concert attendee ever since that day.
Since none of us drove a car, we rode the train from South Norwalk, CT to Grand Central Station. All the way down to the East Village we held a lively debate about our favorite band Jethro Tull and their first album, This Was. We loved to argue competitively which was the best song on the album. My favorite choice was “Serenade to a Cuckoo” by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. I fought for it vehemently as others articulated their favorites. Tull fanatics were we enjoying our obsession!
We took the IRT Lexington Avenue subway line to Astor Place. It was a cool and comfortable July evening in the East Village neighborhood. Our anticipation grew as we approached The Fillmore East venue on 2nd Avenue. The smell of pot and incense filled the air. The sidewalks were crowded with long-haired hippies like us. I was approached several times before we went inside if I had a spare ticket. I never responded and just kept walking. The famous lighted marquee above showed in black letters, July 3 Jeff Beck/Jethro Tull. We surrendered our tickets at the door which the Fillmore usher proceeded to tear in half. He gave us each a program (which I have since lost, sigh) and then he escorted us to our seats under the balcony overhang. He had long hair to the middle of his back and was wearing a Fillmore East green basketball jersey. He used his flashlight to point out our four seats in aisle M. Then he smiled and said, “Enjoy the show.” I thought what a cool job wondering how many great shows had he seen?
The theater was bustling as people milled about. The banter of the crowd was loud and lively. The stage was smaller than I thought it would be. I was fine with that as it added to the intimate nature of the celebration.
Soon the lights went down and Kip Cohen (Managing Director) announced the opening act. “Ladies and Gentleman please give a warm New York City welcome for Soft White Underbelly.” The first act Soft White Underbelly was a local Long Island band. They would evolve to later become Blue Oyster Cult. I was not familiar with this band’s music at all. I loved their raw energy and loud, thrashing guitars. I watched as Light by Pablo set the backdrop for their set with lots of uses of white and grey graphics. At one point I saw an image of the great white whale Moby Dick thrashing in the ocean behind them. I loved witnessing the use of lighting and graphics accented the artist’s music as they played. This art form fascinated me. Soft White Underbelly played a short, 30 minute set and received a nice round of applause for their effort.
We started yelling, “Jethro Tull, Jethro Tull”, repeatedly. The guys in front of us gave us a look of disapproval but we didn’t care. We heard the announcer say, “From England, Jethro Tull”. Next thing you know Ian Anderson and the Jethro Tull band took the stage. Ian was a whirling dervish that night. Silver flute in hand wearing a red checkered bath robe with long suede boots laced all the way up to his knee. He had this wild look in his eyes and he often stood on one foot as he played the flute. Off they went into the first song from This Was, “My Sunday Feeling”.
I was jumping up and down with Tull as they rocked the house. Wow, I was really getting to see my favorite band perform right in front of me. They sounded fantastic, much more dynamic than their album ever conveyed.
We quickly learned that Mick Abrahams, original Tull lead guitarist, had been replaced by Martin Barre. I was disappointed because I loved Abrahams style and wanted to see him play. Martin Barre, as the new Jethro Tull took a bit of getting used to that night. (Martin Barre became a fixture with Jethro Tull for the next four decades.)
We did not know yet that we were about to be treated to several new tracks from their “unreleased” second studio recording, Stand Up.
The lighting for Jethro Tull was a thick, dark, wooded glen. The screen changed into fantastic shades of forest green and blue. I recall the leaves turning bronze and copper which offset the trees smartly.
The song I liked the best from Stand Up was “Fat Man”. It was Ian Anderson seated singing and playing mandolin and Clive Bunker on bongos with bells on his feet staying in time. It was a departure from the songs on This Was. I found the song about being fat enchanting and fun. Ian Anderson’s wry sense of humor came across on these lyrics.
The Fillmore East concert was held on the eve of the Newport Jazz Festival on July 4th. George Wein had decided that Newport Jazz would go Rock that year. Jethro Tull and The Jeff Beck Group along with Led Zeppelin were scheduled to change jazz festival history as part of a transformative lineup in Newport, Rhode Island. Ian Anderson mentioned to the audience how he couldn’t wait to perform with Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
Then Jethro Tull played my favorite song, “Serenade to a Cuckoo”. I was enthralled to get my private wish of hearing this song played live answered. Tull justified their place at Newport when they performed this jazz classic.
Their set ended too quickly for us. We yelled and screamed “Tull” as they excitedly vanished to wildly enthusiastic applause.
The Jeff Beck Group headlined The Fillmore East concert. Jeff Beck was a very skillful guitar slinger set against the light show extravaganza. The lighting effect for The Jeff Beck Group was the psychedelic bubble formed in a petri dish on an overhead projector. I was reminded of the cover of Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida as the bubble throbbed and mutated above the band. I was witnessing a member of the Yardbirds. How cool was that?
Rod Stewart was vocalist extraordinaire for Jeff Beck. He was the dandy with a long scarf that he threw about his neck as he strutted the stage like a peacock. He was very tall and the women were taken with him. He was the sex symbol we would later read about in the seventies. I loved his gravelly voice.
The Jeff Beck Group also featured Ron Wood (Small Faces, Rolling Stones) on bass guitar and Tony Newman on drums. They tore the roof off The Fillmore East venue that night.
After the concert we walked back to the subway stop, making a pit stop at Gramophone a record shop where I purchased Beck-Ola by The Jeff Beck Group. I wanted to become more familiar with the songs I heard them do that evening. I still own that album and play it when the mood strikes me.
Years later I ended up seeing Blue Oyster Cult right up the street from where I live, Jethro Tull six more times (not including the Ian Anderson Rubbing Elbow Tours, which is another story for another day) and Jeff Beck twice at Madison Square Garden.
The Fillmore East – 105 Second Avenue, East Village
The Fillmore East survived just four years. Rock music was moving to the arenas and stadiums. The Fillmore business model could no longer afford to pay the bands who made our music. The Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation commemorated The Fillmore East on October 9, 2014 with this plaque.
This film traces Jeff Beck‘s music and career throughout the 1960s – his formative influences and early groups, his work with The Yardbirds, his brief, bizarre reinvention by producer Mickie Most as a solo pop star, and the first, radical incarnation of the Jeff Beck Group, during which he played alongside vocalist Rod Stewart and second guitarist Ron Wood. Featuring a plethora of rare performance and studio footage, exclusive interviews, contributions from those who worked with and alongside Jeff during this period and a host of other features, all of which combine to make this documentary – the first yet to singularly focus on Beck’s career – a legitimate tribute and enthralling history of this often underrated musician, writer and performer.
I have been fortunate to experience rock music artists performing with a full symphony on stage with them. The collaboration of strings, brass, woodwinds and tympani set against rock has been extraordinary. The two concert moments that transfigured the music of our heart were Yes in 2001 (captured on DVD as Yes Symphonic Live) and Jeff Beck in 2010 performing with a symphony group, Nessun Dorma by Puccini, it is an aria from the opera Turandot.
Which leads me to Kitaro, who I have yet to see live in concert. Kitaro is #1 on my list of must see concerts. I’m beginning to think I will have to travel elsewhere in the world to see him perform but I am perfectly willing to do so, 🙂
Recorded Live at the Halic Congress Center in Istanbul, Turkey over two evenings in March of 2014, Grammy and Golden Globe winning artist Kitaro’s “Symphony Live In Istanbul” is breathtaking. The album features new musical material while also including eight of the acclaimed artist’s most requested and popular compositions.
This amazing performance marks Kitaro’s first-ever recording for the Domo Music Group balancing the artists trademark signature sound and expanding it to new heights with the addition of a full live symphony orchestra.
Kitaro noted “In 1980, I began composing and producing music about the passageway and excursions of the Silk Road. This past spring, I embarked upon my first Symphonic Tour that reached Russia, Eastern and Central Europe and had the distinct pleasure of performing in Istanbul; a place where from ancient times to modern times, has flourished as an important hub of the Silk Road where Europe and Asia meet.”
Wishing I could be in Oakland, California at Yoshi’s tomorrow evening September 5th to attend the pre-release party for Tarpan Record’s owner and consummate artist, Narada Michael Walden‘s album. Thunder 2013. Know that I am there in spirit. My enthusiasm goes out to my friend Steffen Frantz, who I am proud to share with the readers of this music blog, recently became President of the Tarpan Records label. I wholeheartedly agree with Narada Michael Walden’s choice for his top executive 🙂
Thunder 2013 is due to drop on Tuesday September 17th. It’s a vibrant recording with a unique depth of soul that peacefully envelops the music of our heart.
“Brother Narada’s new sound is young and vibrant. Listening to Thunder, is uplifting and transforming! Narada’s vision is powerful with lots of soul. It is a tapestry of vibrant ideas, universal tone and the great vocal hooks that he is known for. This album rocks hard-core with supreme light and raw energy divine.” – Carlos Santana
My favorite track so far is “Dreams of Vinyl” 🙂
I last saw Narada Michael Walden live at Madison Square Garden on February 18, 2010. He was playing drums for Jeff Beck that evening. The group featured selections from Jeff Beck’s Emotion, Commotion, months before its release. I was totally blown away by what I heard and experienced.
I get a similar feeling plus more from Thunder 2013. It has great feel flow. Give it a listen on Sound Cloud, you’ll crave the vibe 😉
So here we are later in time and I am writing about Rod Stewart’s soon to be released new album, Time (May 7th).
It’s interesting how much has changed in 44 years. I discovered Rod Stewart by accident actually as my goal that night at The Fillmore East was to see my favorite band at the time, Jethro Tull. I didn’t own a lick of Jeff Beck or Rod Stewart’s music before the show. I purchased Beck-Ola on the way to the Subway at The Gramophone.
Today I receive an e-mail from the Rod Stewart mailing list that informs me of the forthcoming album. I navigate with my Web browser to the Rod Stewart Official Website and I become informed about Time and its contents there. I also see that YouTube serves as the video preview point globally for Rod Stewart’s Time. Last but not least I don’t have to leave my easy chair to buy the recording because I can pre-order it on iTunes or Amazon. Rod Stewart in Internet Time indeed.
I have had the good fortune to see Buddy Guy perform live five times in my life. I have seen him at Toads Place with John Mayer, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert with Jeff Beck(2009), the 200 Year Salute to the Blues at Radio City Music Hall(2003) and Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport (twice). He is always the consistent showman who possesses this incredible knack of coaxing the blues out of his polka dot guitar.
It has been an exciting and rewarding time for Buddy Guy these past few months. He received the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors on December 2nd, 2012. It was a well deserved recognition for one of our national treasures.
Here is the CBS video segment about the Buddy Guy tribute in its entirety.
At age 76 Buddy Guy shows no signs of slowing down. If anything he has picked up momentum. He is playing his 16 night annual Winter residency at his Buddy Guy Legends Club in Chicago right now.
Last year Buddy Guy released a biography co-authored with David Ritz. David Ritz has written some great music biographies about B.B. King, Ray Charles to name a few. I ordered this item as my new Audible audio book to listen to in the car.
Buddy Guy Live At Legends
Buddy Guy released last month a live audio CD of a past Winter residency that was recorded at his old Legends Club in January 2010. It also includes as a bonus three studio tracks. I’m listening to this on Spotify 😉
He appeared on the David Letterman Show last night with his band to promote that recording. He performed “Damn Right I Got The Blues“.
There is no denying the stunning contributions Jeff Beck has contributed to music over the decades. I was quite taken with his jazz/rock fusion era. It was such a game changer for him and the music being produced in the mid-70s.
Asked to describe the music, Jeff Beck said, “It crosses the gap between white rock and Mahavishnu, or jazz-rock. It bridges a lot of gaps, It’s more digestible, the rhythms are easier are easier to understand than Mahavishnu’s. It’s more on the fringe.” (Source: Jeff Beck: The Fusion Years by Jas Obrecht, 2010)
The instrumental song from Blow by Blow, “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” has become Jeff Beck’s signature classic. Every time I hear it, it stops me in my tracks. I understand perfectly why Stevie Wonder gave Jeff Beck this song. He knew it belonged to his magic fingers alone. There are very few song’s in jazz/rock fusion that epitomize the cry of the heart as “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers”. I have seen Jeff Beck do this song live twice and each time it was a moving experience.
Jeff Beck followed Blow by Blow with Wired in 1976. He switched it up by adding Jan Hammer on synthesizer and Narada Michael Walden on drums. They had all jammed together while on tour with the Mahavishnu Orchestra the summer before, which was how the
nucleus was formed. Wired was a tougher album to assimilate but once digested it stick to your ribs. The Charles Mingus track, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” grabbed me first. It has become a staple choice in Jeff Beck’s set lists. Jeff Beck and company execute it with total precision.
The third album in the series of Jeff Beck’s jazz/rock fusion era was titled, Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live, a chronicle of their 100-show tour together. Jan Hammer….
I am not too familiar with this particular recording or the one that follows it, There and Back. I owned and played often Blow by Blow and Wired. Writing this blog post today has helped me to examine and appreciate their live album. Thanks to Spotify I can listen to it in full :).
The fourth album in the Jeff Beck jazz/rock fusion series, There and Back is the most obscure recording to my ears. This album was released in June, 1980. It caps off the five-year investment Jeff Beck made in jazz/rock fusion admirably.
Asked how he worked out the material for the album, Beck said, “I ripped myself apart, and I ripped Tony Hymas apart. I tried to get him to understand where I was at because Tony came in as an emergency player back in’78 when we had a tour of Japan lined up and had a problem with another keyboard player. And Tony picked up so quickly and had such a good ear and his musical training and understanding was so superb, I couldn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be a good idea to start schooling him in my ways. Sounds insulting to say ‘school him’ when he knows more about music than I do, but that doesn’t mean what I’m doing is not valid. In the first two weeks he had already begun to see what I wanted without me saying anything. So most of the music on There and Back evolved through our playing together. Tony writes everything down. He just scribbles on the backs of pieces of paper. And then when we run through it, I say, ‘Well, here I can’t get along with this framework that I’ve got to solo over. Let’s change that – take this chord out of there and put it somewhere else.’ It’s just custom-building music between us. Of course, if it’s his song to start with, whatever happens to it, it’s still his song. I’ve reached the point where I need to be led somewhere – on a melody level, not so much on the technique or guitar trickery level. The stuff pours out of me when I’ve got the right tune. I can’t help it – it just pours out! But if the tune isn’t right, then I’ve got to push it a bit. If it’s totally wrong, I’ve got to drag it.” (Source: Jeff Beck: The Fusion Years by Jas Obrecht, 2010)
I want to personally thank Jas Obrecht for his Web column, “Jeff Beck: The Fusion Years“. It kept me grounded and focused on this blog post. He is a very competent music journalist and I learned a great deal from his Jeff Beck piece. Should you want more details than my blog post accomplishes here I urge you to browse over and read Jas’s article.