The best drummer Jeff Beck had ever heard

Jeff Beck

Along with Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page, the name Jeff Beck should always be found near the top of all-time top guitarist rankings. Of course, there are many unsung heroes of similar ability, but guitarists such as Beck and Hendrix are regarded as all-time greats because they surfed a popular wave just before it crashed. Just before the confusing beginning of punk rock, they carried electric guitar blues to its virtuoso zenith.

Beck remembered his buddy and inspiration, Jimi Hendrix, in a 2021 interview with Louder Sound. “When I saw Jimi, we knew he was going to be trouble,” Beck said. “And by ‘we’, I mean me and Eric [Clapton] because Jimmy [Page] wasn’t in the frame at that point.”

“I saw him at one of his earliest performances in Britain, and it was quite devastating,” he said, modestly showing envy. “He did all the dirty tricks – setting fire to his guitar, doing swoops up and down his neck, all the great showmanship – to put the final nail in our coffin.” “I had the same temperament as Hendrix in terms of ‘I’ll kill you,’ but he did it in such a good package with beautiful songs.”

“I don’t want to say that I knew him well, I don’t think anybody did. But there was a period in London when I went to visit him quite a few times,” Beck said in a statement. “He invited me to Olympic Studios, and I gave him a bottleneck.” On Axis, he plays a song called Bold As Love. We met in New York and performed at Steve Paul’s club, The Scene.”

During the late 1960s, London’s thriving rock culture produced some of the finest drummers of all time. This includes Mitch Mitchell, who backed Hendrix in The Experience. Ginger Baker worked with Clapton in Cream, and John Bonham played with Page in Led Zeppelin.

Beck discussed his unusual professional path with Kate Mossman of New Statesman in 2016. He revealed that, after accidentally slicing off a fingertip in the kitchen, he had insured his fingers for $7 million. Beck also said during the interview that traveling with the jazz-rock band Mahavishnu Orchestra impacted his perspective on music.

It was the refining of [frontman John] McLaughlin that presented a way out for me,” Beck said. “When I arrived at soundcheck and saw him and the sax player trading solos, I thought, ‘This is me.'” He is an expert on scales, and he tells the story within the scale. Can you imagine playing with McLaughlin and then the Stones?”

Beck then reserved his highest praise for the band’s drummer, Billy Cobham. Jeff Beck called Billy Cobham the best drummer he’d ever heard. “Not loud, that’s not the secret – he could be powerful as hell when he wanted to be. But 90% of the time, he was just dancing with the drums, you know? All over them, like a butterfly.”

Watch the Mahavishnu Orchestra perform live in 1972 below.

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