Biography

Jeff Beck Group

The first Jeff Beck Group formed in London in early 1967 and included guitarist Jeff Beck, vocalist Rod Stewart, and rhythm guitarist Ronnie Wood, with bass players and drummers changing regularly. They spent most of 1967 playing the UK club circuit and appeared several times on BBC Radio. Beck signed a personal management contract with record producer and manager Mickie Most, who had no interest in the group, only in Beck as a solo artist.

 

 

During 1967 the band released three singles in Europe and two in the United States, the first, "Hi Ho Silver Lining", being the most successful, reaching No. 14 on the UK singles chart; it included the instrumental "Beck's Bolero" as the B side, which had been recorded several months earlier. The line-up for that session included guitarist Jimmy Page on rhythm guitar, John Paul Jones on bass, Keith Moon on drums, and Nicky Hopkins on piano.

 

 

Peter Grant, a road manager at the time, could see that it was becoming possible to break out a band without using the "hit single" formula. Grant realized that Beck's band was ideal for this market and tried several times to buy Beck's contract from Mickie Most, who refused to let Beck go. By early 1968 the band was ready to throw in the towel, but Grant convinced them not to break up, and booked a short US tour for them. Beck is quoted as saying "We were literally down to one change of clothing each".

 

 

Grant's first stop for them was in New York City, for four shows at Fillmore East, where they played second on the bill to the Grateful Dead. They apparently took the town by storm. The New York Times ran the Robert Shelton article: "Jeff Beck Group Cheered in Debut", with the byline "British Pop Singers Delight Fillmore East Audience" proclaiming that Beck and his group had upstaged the Grateful Dead. The reviews from The Boston Tea Party were as good or better: "By the time he got to his last number ... (the fans) were in a state of pandemonium the likes of which hadn't been witnessed since the Beatles hit town." By the time they wrapped up the tour at San Francisco's Fillmore West, Peter Grant had secured them a new album contract with Epic Records.

 

 

The band quickly returned to England to record the album Truth, which reached No. 15 in the US charts.  Beck's amplifier was apparently so loud, it was recorded from inside a closet. The extra line-up for these sessions included John Paul Jones on Hammond organ, drummer Keith Moon and Nicky Hopkins on piano. The core group, billed as the "Jeff Beck Group", returned to the US for a tour to promote the release of Truth. Long-time Beck fan Jimi Hendrix jammed with the band at Cafe Wha during this and their following tours.

 

 

They embarked on their third tour in December 1968 with Hopkins who accepted Beck's invitation, even though he had been offered more money by Led Zeppelin. In May 1969, the Jeff Beck Group embarked on their fourth U.S tour, which went smoothly and new album Beck-Ola was received extremely well, reaching No. 15 on the Billboard 200 album chart, but it was reported that there was now terrible in-fighting within the band. Rod Stewart's plans to leave the band may have been under consideration by this time; in July 1969, he brought current bandmate Wood and former bandmate Waller into the studio to record his debut full-length solo album, An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down for Mercury Records.

 

 

The Jeff Beck Group finished the tour and returned to England, only to return to the States in July 1969 for their fifth and final time. It was a short tour, mostly along the East Coast, including their final Fillmore East appearance, and the Newport Jazz Festival. Beck broke up the band on the eve of the Woodstock Music Festival, at which they had been scheduled to perform, a decision Beck later stated that he regretted.

 

 

Late in 1970, Jeff Beck reformed the Jeff Beck Group with vocalist Alex Ligertwood, keyboardist Max Middleton, drummer Cozy Powell and bassist Clive Chaman. During June 1971, Beck signed a record deal with CBS and the Group produced two more albums before disbanding in July 1972.

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