Jeff Beck on Hendrix (and SRV)

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by eichaan, Feb 26, 2020.

  1. eichaan

    eichaan Member

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    As I was putting together my monthly look at the Guitar Player magazine from 30 years ago, I was interested to see the interview with cover stars Jeff Beck and Stevie Ray Vaughan turn to Jimi Hendrix. By 1990, Hendrix had been dead for nearly 20 years, but he still seemed to haunt the memory of many of his peers, and GP always tried to ask older musicians of their experiences with him. Interestingly, SRV has now been gone for almost 30 years, and I feel that he gets less attention.

    Anyway, here are some relevant excerpts:

    Jeff, what was it like to jam with Hendrix?

    SRV: Yeah, good question.

    JB: What was it like? Well [pause], it was awful! The first time, I felt like a peanut, like a ****ing hole would have opened up and swallowed me. The thing that puts it right is the fact that there’s a genuine love that Jimi had for my style as well, which couldn’t believe. Then I realized that Jimi was not a messiah; he was a very genuine, dyed-in-the-wool, music-loving person. He didn’t give a damn about the reputation, the show biz razzmatazz. All he was interested in were the licks and what you were feeling like–kind of like Buddy Guy. Remember that night we were playing with Buddy? It was a conversation. The guitar was just talking and he was listening and looking: “Hmm, that’s interesting!”

    It was much the same with Jimi. He wasn’t out to blow you off the stage at all. If he did, he did, but…What am I talking about, ‘if’? Phew. It was great. When I got friendly with him, it was just sadness that we couldn’t nurture the friendship a bit more. In those days, life was just totally crazy. He would be off in a 24-hours-a-day lifestyle, and I couldn’t keep up with it. I had to have my sleep. He was a boogier–a club here, club there, and he’d be jamming until 5:00 in the morning. My lifestyle was never destined to be like that, so I just had to say, “Adios, Jim, I gotta go to bed!” I felt very amateurish alongside him, because he lived and breathed it. You’re very similar to Jimi in that way. I’m just a part time employee.

    SRV: I don’t know about that one [laughs].

    JB: I’m not in love with the guitar as much as you are or Jimi is–was. I just pick it up and play sometimes. I feel really guilty. Whatever I choose to do, it always robs me of something. The guitar robs me of my time building [hot] rods, and the rods take their toll on the playing. But the payoff is the refreshment on both sides. By building, I’m able to completely steep myself in physical things, and all the time I’m doing that, I’m thinking of licks and music, which I’m not able to do sitting with a guitar. That’s probably the reason I’m able to maintain a modicum of interest in music after 30-odd years.​

    It's interesting to see Beck describe himself as more of a "part-time" musician. I am a part-time musician and he and I are quite different! Later in the issue, interviewers asked Beck to look back over the previous decades, and his point of view was, once again, contrary:

    At points in your career, you’ve been drawn to more complex, jazz-based harmony, but several tracks on Guitar Shop are just one-chord grooves.

    I was determined not to bore anybody with any jazz. Things like Blow By Blow were just unadulterated jazz, but I didn’t think so at the time. If you listen to real jazz, like Chick Corea, or experimental high-art rock and roll, which I consider to be John McLaughlin, then it is sort of Muzaky. “Fuzak” Simon Phillips called it. And when I heard him say fuzak, I went phttht–boxed it up and threw it in a bin. I guess at that time I wanted some solidification; I had to be playing a tune, not just abstract flurries of noise. There had to be some nice chords to get the listener to draw an ear a bit closer.

    But I shouldn’t have done Blow By Blow. I wish I hadn’t done any of them, because they’re just mistakes on record. I wish I had stayed with earthy rock and roll. I got sucked into….When you’re surrounded with very musical people like Max Middleton and Clive Chaman, you’re in a prison, and you have to play along with that. I wasn’t able to direct them against their grain, so that’s what came out.

    Do you dislike being perceived as a fusion player because you don’t feel you really are one, or because you don’t like the implication the label carries?

    It’s a bad word now.

    But at the time, it meant a bringing together of musical worlds, and in many ways still does.

    Yeah, well that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s like taking a bit of vanilla ice cream and pouring something else over it to cover up the vanilla. You either like vanilla or you don’t. I mean, you can make it better with chocolate sauce, but it’s not right when you try to put another flavor in. It’s like lime in your Perrier. I mean, Perrier is Perrier. You’ve got to look for the single elements sometimes.

    But the same can be said about the marriage of blues and rock.

    Yeah. Well, there are some good things on Blow By Blow. It just reminds me of flared trousers and double-breasted jackets. I didn’t like the ’60s and ’70s basically. I hated them. The mid ’60s were okay, because every day was a hurricane in the Yardbirds and I could afford to look at it with contempt; around me were a lot of things I had nothing to do with, like flower power and awful things like flared trousers.
    In the blog post I go on to contrast Beck's seeming discomfort with his own past, and dissatisfaction with his previous work to that of his childhood friend Jimmy Page, who seems to have given up significant music creation many, many years ago in favor of mastering and re-mastering his old music. Not to say one approach is better, or nobler, than the other (and we know which is more commercially viable), but they are contrasting.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger Gold Supporting Member

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    Wow.
     
  3. mixwiz

    mixwiz Member

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    No kidding. It's one of my favorite records.
     
  4. FenderBigot

    FenderBigot Supporting Member

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    I remember that Fire Meets Fury tour... it’s when I decided I wanted to really play guitar. :aok
     
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  5. eichaan

    eichaan Member

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    I always find it challenging to read musicians discussing their old work. I remember years ago reading interviews with Paul Simon and John Lennon dismissing some of the songs I really liked and it always put a bit of a cloud over the tunes for me going forward. Sort of like "if HE doesn't like it, why should I?"
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
  6. BigDar

    BigDar Member

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    Beck is just a fascinating person. He seems pretty deep. Would love to have a drink with him and talk about anything but music. Just love him.
     
  7. Tommy Biggs

    Tommy Biggs Silver Supporting Member

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    Nice excerpt, thanks for posting it.
    Beck may not have liked BBB, but I sure do.
    Can’t dismiss the George Martin influence.
     
  8. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    Always interesting..., IMO BBB is a pinnacle ... a complete eye opener when it came out, and still there. :YinYang
     
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  9. DRS

    DRS Member

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    I remember buying this mag in the news stand like it was yesterday.
     
  10. Porschefender

    Porschefender Member

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    Here's Jeff featured on an episode of "Car Crazy" I saw years ago. He's very candid, probably due to being at home and talking car stuff.

    There's a funny bit where he speaks of hanging out with Hendrix in Jimi's new Corvette.

     
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  11. sahhas

    sahhas Supporting Member

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    remember that issue well, it's interesting to read old stuff, and see musicians look back...I think Jeff would rather just work on his cars all the time, that's what i've gotten from most of his interviews...funny he calls himself a "part-time musician", but I think it's healthy that he has other interests.
    It's also interesting to hear/reflect on Hendrix' time, from most of the interviews I've read, Hendrix was in a whirlwind career that I don't think anyone could withstand...

    I know part of this interview, Beck doesn't mention much of the Flash era, he calls that a record company blunder or something....and i can partly understand his point, but honestly, i love that album!!!!

    I know he had Guitar Shop that came out in '89, which is a really good album, had it on cassette back in the day, and a while back i got a copy on CD, it's good stuff!!!! I always thought that Fender that he played on the cover of GP was a cool guitar...i think he said he needed the roller nut to do "Where were you?" which is a great tune....
     
  12. WordMan

    WordMan Silver Supporting Member

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    So funny to hear Jeff get tetchy over stuff. Blow by Blow was just old enough at that point that he needed to reinvent himself and find the next Thing. Although Jeff doesn't follow trends, he is very aware of what is Cool - and hearing the right/wrong someone describe his music as "Fuzak" would be enough to trigger him. I would love to hear him discuss it now.
     
  13. sahhas

    sahhas Supporting Member

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    i know i've seen some photos of the SRV/Beck tour and parts of it he's still playing his 80s Jacksons:
    [​IMG]
    i always wish someone would have asked him about his change to Jackson's in the mid-80s....
     
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  14. WordMan

    WordMan Silver Supporting Member

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    I found this:

    https://www.guitarworld.com/features/charvel-guitars-built-speed
    "Originally published in Guitar World, March 2010

    It didn’t take long for Southern California guitarists to appreciate the Charvel shop’s hot-rodded electronics and the superior playability that its modifications provided. By the late Seventies, when Charvel began to build its own guitars, the company’s aptly dubbed “superstrats”—with their flat, unfinished necks and large fret wire—had become synonymous with the rising trend of shredding. As the Eighties gave rise to virtuoso shredders, Charvel guitars could be seen in the hands of players like Steve Vai, Jake E. Lee, Warren DeMartini and George Lynch. But Charvels weren’t exclusive to metal players. Fusion giant Allan Holdsworth played custom Charvels, and in the late Eighties Jeff Beck exclaimed, “These guitars made me want to start playing again!
     
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  15. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Supporting Member

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    I remember this interview very well. Very informative. I had a chance to
    see the F&TFT, but i had to work & couldn't make it. :(
     
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  16. sahhas

    sahhas Supporting Member

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    hmmmm, thanks for posting that! I was still getting GW until 2012....i vaguely remember that issue/article!!!!!

     
  17. TheMemoryEstate

    TheMemoryEstate Member

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    It was fifties years ago today
    When St. Pepper taught the band to play
    :beer
     
  18. bobcs71

    bobcs71 Member

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    Thanks for posting that. There is SO much content in his answers!

    So Hendrix looked up to Buddy Guy and Jeff looked up to Hendrix? I knew Hendrix asked & recorded a live performance from Buddy.

    Hendrix and SRV couldn't keep pace with 24/7 music. Jeff's hot rod interest may have cost some intensity but gave some longevity. Plus fast cars are awesome!

    I seem to be in the minority in TGP but I have always liked Jeff's playing with vocalists better than the fusion stuff. Seems like he did too.
     
  19. Toby Krebs

    Toby Krebs Member

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    The assumption that any of these musicians like JB are in love with what they do unconditionally is kind of amusing to me.The restlessness and yearning for something different musically does not stop when you win a Grammy.When you play for 50 plus years you have to try really hard to stay interested.

    I am struggling to keep gigging at almost age 60 not because I love it but because the lucrative gigs are still
    being offered to me.I have a solid teaching job I can do until I am dead that I have spent the last 4 years building.

    This last week recovering from the flu really has me thinking about spending more time with my wife/sons etc...and doing some fishing lol!

    BBB changed my whole outlook on music as did Wired.
    But I have no expectations that the man who made those records had as much regard for them as I do.

    It’s like actors who don’t even watch their own movies.
    I don’t find that odd either.
     
  20. sahhas

    sahhas Supporting Member

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    I think a lot of the interviews/articles that i've read about a lot of guitarists/musicians are that albums can be snapshots of a certain time, some can be good, some can be bad/painful to look at.
    it's sort of like everyone chasing the EVH sound on VH1....EVH is not chasing that sound, he hears something different....always thought that was funny.

    Beck certainly has a unique touch when he picks up the guitar...i remember a while ago listening to Tina Turner's Steel Claw song on her comeback album in the 80s....Jeff's playing on that is just fabulous...and for a while it was the only new JB stuff you could hear, b/c he had been on somewhat of a hiatus...i need to rewatch his documentary , I remember thinking it was really good!

     
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