Jeff Beck Talks Eric Clapton Rivalry and What Motown Taught Him

Ahead of a new doc telling his life story, the guitar legend reflects on more than 50 years of work with everyone from Jimmy Page to Tina Turner

“I was going to write an autobiography once,” Jeff Beck says with a laugh. “I started writing it, and then I thought, ‘No, let them dig around when I’m dead.'”

He might not be writing his memoirs, but he recently participated in a feature-length documentary about his life, Still on the Run: The Jeff Beck Story, which tells his whole history, from strumming a homemade guitar as a teenager with his chum Jimmy Page to joining the Yardbirds and becoming a solo phenomenon who plays with a unique voice. Depending on the song, Beck can emulate a human voice on his instrument (“‘Cause We Ended as Lovers,” “Nadia”), add exotic flair to otherwise straightforward pop songs (the Yardbirds’ “Heart Full of Soul”) or making his six strings screech to high heaven (“Beck’s Bolero”). Helping him to reflect in the film are Page, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, David Gilmour, Ron Wood, Slash and a host of other artists he’s performed with over the years. It chronicles his artistry, his erratic temperament – such as quitting the Yardbirds and breaking up the Jeff Beck Group when they were both on the verge of success – his notable collaborations (like working with Stevie Wonder) and, of course, his legacy as a guitar idol. And it touches on why he never achieved the same broad level of fame as his peers, and the fact that he kept moving on to new ideas and new sounds, from rock to jazz fusion to electro-improv and back again.

Ultimately, he was pleased with how the film came out. “It was like This Is Your Life in condensed form,” he says. “But they left out all the gory bits. I’ll save those for myself.

Source: Rolling Stone